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Kahanism and Democracy

 

I. The Jewish Idea

R. Meir Kahane was a powerful speaker and charismatic leader but was he right? Setting aside the politics and rhetoric, were his ideas the only legitimate Torah views, as he often claimed? While he wrote prolifically during his lifetime, his magnum opus, Or Ha-Ra’ayon, was published posthumously in Hebrew (English translation). I would like, in a series of posts, to review specific themes in this book and compare with traditional sources and the writings of other twentieth century rabbinic thinkers.

R. Kahane’s book is laced with his harsh rhetoric. He tolerated no dissent and viciously attacked opposing views. I hope to set all that aside and discuss the merit of his ideas, with one exception as we will see below. The first topic is Democracy, and I will be specifically comparing R. Kahane’s analysis with those of R. Eliezer Yehudah Waldenburg (in his Responsa Tzitz Eliezer and Hilkhos Medinah), R. Shaul Yisraeli (in his Amud Ha-Yemini) and R. Shlomo Goren (in his Toras Ha-Medinah).

II. Democracy Isn’t Kosher

R. Kahane strongly opposed democracy as contrary to the Torah. If the public determines the law, it can easily establish rules that deviate from the Torah (Or Ha-Ra’ayon, p. 291). While this may please the public, it does not fit God’s plan for the Jewish nation. Rather, democracy is a foreign import, a gentile concept improperly grafted onto Judaism.

R. Kahane argued (p. 288) that the idea that people give the government the right to rule in their name leads to the concept that people may not reject a government decision. In this secular-national concept of a government, the people are supreme. However, the Jewish nation is governed by the Torah, not themselves.

Additionally, the Israeli government currently consists largely of non-religious Jews. However, R. Kahane notes (p. 294), the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Melakhim 1:7) rules that only someone who fears God may be appointed to a public position. Additionally, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 26a) rejects decisions made together with wicked people as the product of a “kesher resha’aim,” a wicked union (pp. 57, 291-292). Therefore, a democratically elected non-religious government is inherently invalid and its decisions against the Torah are null and void.

Rather, R. Kahane insisted, the proper Jewish government is as the Torah commands, a monarchy: “You shall surely appoint a king on you” (Deut. 17:15). Described throughout the Bible and codified as law by Maimonides, this divinely ordained form of government is the only proper way to govern a Jewish country. Since we currently lack a prophet to appoint a king, R. Kahane suggests we instead appoint a nasi (regent) to rule like a king.

III. Theoretical Challenges

R. Kahane’s view and presentation runs into problems on the theoretical, biblical, commentarial, talmudic and historical planes. Let’s take them one at a time. R. Kahane rejects democracy because it allows the government to pass laws contrary to the Torah. However, this objection is insufficient to reject democracy entirely because there is a democratic alternative which resolves this problem: a constitutional democracy in which the democratically elected government is unable to pass laws contrary to its Torah-based constitution. Indeed, the Torah scholars who support a democracy generally do not support the laws passed contrary to the Torah. You can support democracy and still object to those laws.

Additionally, this same objection can be raised equally against the institution of monarchy. As we see from the times of the Bible and the Second Commonwealth, Jewish kings often established rules contrary to the Torah. Monarchy is certainly no safeguard against government misconduct.

IV. Biblical Trouble

One of R. Kahane’s frequent rhetorical devices is to label views with which he disagrees as gentile attitudes. Because of his rhetorical style, I would not point it out in our context if not for the irony. The only government system that the Bible explicitly calls gentile is monarchy: “And you will say, I will appoint on me a king like all the nations around me” (Deut. 17:14). Calling democracy a gentile form of government when the Torah applies that label to monarchy, and failing to address that issue, is in my opinion a serious lacuna.

However, even more significant is the failure to address the prophet Shmuel’s criticism of the Jews when they asked for a king (1 Sam. 8). If monarchy is the ideal form of government and divinely mandated, why did the prophet object when the people wished to appoint a king? This is not an obscure question. The literature surrounding it runs deep in our commentarial tradition. Yet R. Kahane fails to address it. This is particularly grave because R. Kahane leans toward citation of primary texts–Bible and Talmud–and quotes commentaries and codes sparingly. This magnifies the absence of this key biblical passage on monarchy.

V. Commenting on the Bible

R. Eliezer Waldenburg (Hilkhos Medinah, vol. 1, 3:1) surveys the commentarial approaches to Shmuel’s apparent objection to appointing a king. Quoting from a wide spectrum of sources, he shows the varying attitudes to this subject. In particular, R. Waldenburg cites the important views of Rabbenu Nissim (Ran) and R. Yitzchak Abarbanel.

Ran (Derashos Ha-Ran, no. 11) argues for a separation of powers between the courts and the king. The courts legislate based on Torah law while the king leads wars and exercises extra-judicial power in unusual circumstances that require special attention. In the absence of a king, the courts perform both functions but the king can never fulfill the courts’ mandate. According to Ran, the Jews erred in asking from Shmuel a king who will serve in the courts’ role.

Abarbanel (commentary to Deut. and 1 Sam.) sees the appointment of a king as a concession to frail human nature, a sub-optimal arrangement the Torah allows but does not require. Absolute power is subject to easy abuse. While the Torah establishes a few safeguards to prevent a king from deviating from propriety, it cannot guarantee a king’s goodness and indeed history has proven the probability of a wayward king. The Jews should never have asked for a king and Shmuel was correct in his objection to their request.

Abarbanel’s rejection of monarchy as an ideal and Ran’s preference for a limited monarchy are far cries from R. Kahane’s insistence that the Maimonidean framework of mandatory monarchy is the only legitimately Jewish approach.

R. Waldenburg ends his summary of the different commentarial views by citing the Shelah‘s contention (on Deut.) that Rabbenu Nissim’s view is most preferable. R. Shaul Yisraeli (Amud Ha-Yemini, 7:5) also adopts an element of Ran’s approach.

On the other hand, the Netziv (Ha’amek Davar, Deut. 17:14) adopts an approach somewhere between Rambam and Abarbanel. Noting the Torah’s unusual language implying that the obligation to appoint a king is contingent on the people asking for it, Netziv suggests that Jews can choose whichever type of government they prefer. Not every government is appropriate for every time and place. Therefore, Jews should look around at other nations’ governments and decide which form works best for them. If it is a monarchy, then–and only then–they are commanded to appoint a king.

VI. Talmudic Debate

R. Kahane presents the obligation to appoint a king as a straightforward verse in the Bible and commandment listed by the Rambam. However, the Talmud (Sanhedrin 20b) presents a debate over whether there is an obligation. According to R. Yehudah, there exists an obligation to appoint a king. However, according to R. Nehorai (as explained by Rashi), there is no command to appoint a king but if the people do so, the Torah limits the king’s rights in specific ways.

Additionally, R. Kahane fails to cite talmudic examples of democracy. R. Shlomo Goren (Toras Ha-Medinah, ch. 5) begins his discussion of Jewish self-government by citing the talmudic requirement for appointment as a public official–prior public consent (Berakhos 55a). This, R. Goren argues, is an example of democracy in the Talmud. The public as a whole must choose its officials.

R. Eliezer Waldenburg (Tzitz Eliezer, vol. 2 nos. 22, 23; Hilkhos Medinah, vol. 3, 3:1) quotes from the Mishnah and Gemara (Bava Basra 7a, 8b) that townspeople may force each other to pay taxes for communal needs and follow regulations regarding business conduct. Rabbenu Tam (quoted in Mordekhai, Bava Basra 480) explains that this is done through the “seven high-ranking townsmen” (shivah tuvei ha-ir) who are appointed by the community. As the Talmud Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:2) makes clear, whomever the townspeople appoint as their leader may act on their behalf and for their benefit, but generally it consisted of seven officials. These elected officials are allowed to establish laws and taxes, and buy and sell public property. These are all legitimate forms of democratic self-government.

VII. Democracy in Jewish History

R. Kahane’s suggestion of appointing a nasi until we can appoint a king is clearly based on the talmudic precedents of Rabban Gamliel and others. Their political leadership under the title nasi serve as excellent historical basis for any contemporary leadership. Similarly, the institution of reish galusa was a single leader who ruled over his subjects with the power allocated to him by the secular government.

However, Jews also governed themselves in another way. The model of “seven high-ranking townsmen” served Jews well for centuries. In Poland, the Council of Four Lands (Va’ad Arba Aratzos), consisting of seventy delegates from local communities, governed Jewish communities for nearly two hundred years. In other words, the community appointed representatives to govern based on the acceptance of community members.

R. Avraham Kook (Mishpat Cohen 144:15a) proposes that any leader or form of government Jews accept on themselves functions as a monarchy, a position that R. Shaul Yisraeli (Amud Ha-Yemini, no. 7) attempts to bolster with sources and arguments. However, Maharam Schick (Responsa, Orach Chaim 34) explains that members of a community join together as partners. The government they select serves based on the community members’ consent in the partnership. Regardless of the reason why, the responsa literature is clear that the decisions of communal governments such as the “seven high-ranking townsmen” are binding on all community members (e.g. Responsa Rashba 1:769; Responsa Rosh 6:19; Responsa Rashbash 566; Rema, Choshen Mishpat 163:6).

VIII. Representative Government

R. Kahane objected to the idea that people give the government the right to rule in their name. As we saw above, this is contradicted by the example of the “seven high-ranking townsmen.” When we examine the underlying concept of monarchy, we find something even more surprising.

The Chasam Sofer (Responsa, Orach Chaim 208) argued that a king is allowed to execute those who rebel against him through consent of the governed at the time of his appointment. R. Shaul Yisraeli (Amud Ha-Yemini, no. 9) and R. Shlomo Goren (Toras Ha-Medinah, ch. 5) built on this idea and argued that any government appointed by the populace governed retains the right to punish and legislate for the same reason as a monarch. The people empower the government.

IX. Non-Religious Representatives

In response to another issue R. Kahane raised, let us look at R. Waldenberg’s response to the question of whether religious Jews may serve in the Knesset if they know the non-religious majority will outvote them. In Hilkhos Medinah (vol. 3, 3:3), R. Waldenberg reproduced precisely this question as asked him by S.Z. Shragai and a lengthy reply. R. Waldenberg rejected all possible precedents–including that of kesher resha’im–because the Knesset will pass laws with or without the participation of religious representatives.

Additionally, the religious representatives object to legislation that runs counter to Judaism. This rebuke serves to disassociate them from the kesher resha’im.

Furthermore, R. Avraham Kook (Iggeros Ra’ayah 6, 9) writes that non-religious Jews today must be considered exempt from liability for their sins. They are tinokos she-nishbu due to their lack of proper education in religious Jewish ways and cannot be considered wicked.

And finally, refusing to serve in the Knesset with non-religious Jews or to allow them to serve at all would generate immense hatred and cause a tremendous rift in the Jewish people.

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

117 Responses

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    “Monarchy is certainly no safeguard against government misconduct.”

    Channeling Abarbanel!

  2. Charlie Hall says:

    ” examples of democracy”

    It should be mentioned that examples of democracy in ancient times did not look anything like what is called democracy today. Women and slaves had no role whatsoever. And a majority could take away someone’s civil rights, or worse. Greek cities could vote someone into exile, and the Roman Republic could legislate a death sentence on someone who was with the wrong political party. It is no wonder that there were no endorsements of democracy in the Talmud.

  3. IH says:

    On Ancient Democracy, an excellent overview can be viewed on: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8001207403001272754 (for higher quality the DVD is available on Amazon as “Athens: Dawn of Democracy”)

  4. Shasdaf says:

    Rabbi Dr. Yehudah (Leo) Levy discusses democracy (and R. Kahana’s attitude towards non-Jews) in his excellent Facing Current Challenges: Essays on Judaism (Hemed)

  5. Shasdaf says:

    Why don’t you suggest theocracy (I guess it’s similar to your constitutional-democracy model)? I have a stark memory as a kid when our family visited a community “out of town” and the Rabbi or President – I don’t remember which – proudly told my father “our shul is a democracy.”
    My father responded “You mean a theocracy.”
    “No. A democracy.”
    “Then what will happen if the members vote to take out the mechitza?”
    “That won’t happen.”
    “How do you know?”

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    The gemara in Avodah Zara 10a contains a baraita that complains that Rome did not appoint the “son of a king” as a “king”. There is a problem here: Rome did not treat their emperors as kings until the late third century, maintaining the legal fiction that Rome remained a republic! It then has an exchange between Antoninus and Rebbe in which Antoninus expresses the desire that his son would succeed him. Assuming that “Antoninus” is the emperor known to history as Marcus Aurelius, his son did indeed succeed him as emperor, proved to be an incredibly incompetent ruler, and that was the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.

  7. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Best post you’ve done by far.

  8. Nachum says:

    Gil, just curious: Can you give some examples of the “lacing with harsh rhetoric” in this book in particular with which you took offense?

  9. Shlomo says:

    Some points I’d like to differ on:

    1) If monarchy is the ideal form of government and divinely mandated, why did the prophet object when the people wished to appoint a king?

    That’s a question on Chazal, who said that there was an mitzvah deoraita to appoint a king. Any Rabbinic Jew nowadays is entitled to rely on Chazal on this point, regardless of any tension with Sefer Shmuel.

    2) Ran (Derashos Ha-Ran, no. 11) argues for a separation of powers between the courts and the king. The courts legislate based on Torah law while the king leads wars and exercises extra-judicial power in unusual circumstances that require special attention.

    My impression was that these “unusual circumstances” include the 99.9% of criminal cases where there is not edim, hatraah, etc. Not exactly a limitation on the king’s power – it seems more like an expansion of the king’s power.

    3) The Chasam Sofer (Responsa, Orach Chaim 208) argued that a king is allowed to execute those who rebel against him through consent of the governed at the time of his appointment. The people empower the government.

    The king is only appointed once, and he and his descendants rule automatically from then on. So except for one moment in history, the people do NOT empower the government. In any case, the people only empowerment the king to punish rebels (a power whose basis is otherwise not clear). All the king’s other powers are granted by the Torah regardless of what the people prefers or decides.

    4) It follows that the only pre-20th-century source you quote who advocates meaningful restrictions on the king’s role is the Abarbanel, and the Abarbanel is not generally regarded as a major halachic authority. And it may be suggested that the many authorities who did not write extensively about the king’s role believed, as was commonly assumed in their time, that it should not be restricted. It is telling that the main explicit source for absolute monarchy is the Rambam. The Rambam, like few others in Jewish history, made a point of describing every aspect of halacha whether relevant or theoretical. I believe the other rishonim agreed with the Rambam, but simply found no need to state a position that was neither practical nor innovative.

    I personally am willing to rely on the 20th century rabbis who tried to formula a halachic basis for democratic government. But we should be clear that this is an uphill battle, and the overwhelming thrust of the sources goes the other way.

  10. Hirhurim says:

    Shlomo: Excellent points.
    1) It’s a disagreement within Chazal, focusing on precisely that passage in Shmuel
    2) That may be true but the king did not legislate and, absent a king, the court performed that role.
    3) I disagree. The king is constantly appointed. A king cannot forgive his honor, which the Hafla’ah explains is because doing so would detract from constant appointment (a lacking in the simah of som tasim). In a Beis Yitzchak from the late 90s, an article quotes Rav Soloveitchik as saying the same thing. Regardless, the public does not vote on every issue. It appoints a government who, for the duration of its term, makes decisions. That is similar to the process for a king but shorter.
    4) The issue was not particularly pressing prior to the twentieth century but I’m sure a good researcher could find discussions of it. Weren’t there rabbis who supported Communism?
    Everybody loves the Rambam but he wasn’t the final word in halakhah. Tosafos also discuss issues that aren’t currently relevant but not in the easy-to-find and easy-to-read way as the Rambam.

  11. Nachum says:

    As is clear from the Abarbanel himself, one main reason we don’t see much about republics among Chazal, Rishonim, or even Acharonim is that they simply had no experience with it. Abarbanel, living in Italian republics, did. It was almost an inconceivable idea to many of them.

    Read the Hertz Chumash, for example: He has no need to make apologetics for monarchy because he lived in one. He engages in apologetics for democracy, but he’s got no problem with a king. Only twentieth century Americans (and, to a certain extent, Israelis, also they too have a figurehead head of state) would really worry about this.

    So this cuts both ways: We can see and explain away why earlier authorities didn’t think differently. But we can also chalk up opposition to (as R’ Kahane may have put it) “galuti” influence.

  12. Nachum says:

    That said, let me say three things about R’ Kahane and the book itself:

    1. Gil, when you first received it, you said you weren’t impressed. Well, I guess you were impressed enough to devote multiple long posts to it. :-)

    2. People may get the wrong idea from your post: Much (most? I have to check) of the book is devoted to ideas unrelated to Mashiach and democracy. R’ Kahane wrote lots that few could argue with, on hashkafa, Tanach, Zionism, etc.

    3. Most importantly: I’m not sure you realize this, at least not in this context. In other fora, R’ Kahane spoke about how democracy (within certain limits, as all democracies have) is just fine. At a speech at Brandeis right before he was killed, he said, “I’m in favor of democracy for every Jew in Israel, including Yossi Sarid. And believe me, that hurts.” You should understand the context here: R’ Kahane was roundly attacked by many- secular Zionists, non-Orthodox Jews, and Orthodox Jews (who, as he put it, knew better) for calling for an Israeli democracy that *excluded* Arabs from political (but no other) rights. A popular attack was that this was somehow “un-Jewish” or even “un-halakhic” as Judaism, supposedly, is all about democracy. It’s kind of hard to argue that non-Jews have political rights in Judaism, but he seems to be taking it a step further, pointing out that Judaism is *not* necessarily democratic- that, as he said, you can *have* democracy in Judaism, but it’s not a given, and not for every resident of the State of Israel.

    Of course, his main point was that if Israel is a pure democracy, it will one day cease to be Jewish, or at least theoretically would, as 51% of the country could one day be Arab. (As we’ve seen, it need be a lot less than that, as two Arab Knesset members can swing crucial votes.) That’s a pretty simple and irrefutable practical argument; the halakhic ones are over and above that.

  13. joel rich says:

    Theories of government found in halachic works throughout the ages seem to mirror thought in the world in general imho.
    KT

  14. Shalom Rosenfeld says:

    Excellent post, R’ Gil!

    Translation suggestion: for tuvei ha’ir: I’d translate as “selectmen.”

    (Dikduk nudnik, shiv’ah not sheva)

  15. IH says:

    Of course, his main point was that if Israel is a pure democracy, it will one day cease to be Jewish, or at least theoretically would, as 51% of the country could one day be Arab.

    Of course, this is the main point made by those advocating a two state solution. Assuming a deal that could be signed (i.e. one that explicitly recognizes Israel as a Jewish State; and, limits the so-called right of return for Palestinians) then there are existance proofs of democratic countries that have found legal ways to maintain their unique peoplehood character (e.g. Japan).

  16. IH says:

    Nachum — so, as a Kahanist (or at least one with Kahanist sympathies) do you see this issue of monarchy vs. democracy as a key defining factor of Kahane’s politics as justified by halacha?

  17. shmuel silberman says:

    This post is interesting but decades late. During Kahane’s lifetime there was little or no discussion of his views. That reinforced a belief among Kahane and his followers that rabbis were afraid of him because Jewish sources were on his side only.

    Interestingly this post omits discussion of Kahane’s view of non-Jews. He said Arabs could not vote, and had to leave if they did not cooperate with this arrangement.

    parshainsights.blogspot.com

  18. Anonymous says:

    IH:

    1. Of course, if one feels that giving up land is contrary to Jewish law and history and/or dangerous and stupid in terms of security (Kahanists- check, check, check), then the two state solution is off the table. (Leaving Jordan aside, of course.) In any event, R’ Kahane always pointed out that even without the Arabs of territories, you still had a problem with a 20% non-Jewish population with a higher birthrate- and, as I said, even two Knesset members can make a difference. (This, by the way, is an answer to Mr. Silberman: Nu?)

    2. No, I don’t see this as a key defining element. It always seemed to me that Kahane’s enemies over-emphasized his supposed desire for a theocracy over his more easily defended ideas.

  19. Hirhurim says:

    Nachum: So this cuts both ways: We can see and explain away why earlier authorities didn’t think differently. But we can also chalk up opposition to (as R’ Kahane may have put it) “galuti” influence.

    You’re ignoring that 1) the Tannaim debate whether monarchy is optimal, 2) Shmuel disapproved of the monarchy, and 3) the Torah explicitly labels the monarchy as a gentile concept.

    1. Gil, when you first received it, you said you weren’t impressed. Well, I guess you were impressed enough to devote multiple long posts to it. :-)

    Clearly, I wasn’t too impressed.

    2. People may get the wrong idea from your post: Much (most? I have to check) of the book is devoted to ideas unrelated to Mashiach and democracy.

    I agree. This is just one chapter, although I believe one that was important to his political views.

    3. Most importantly: I’m not sure you realize this, at least not in this context. In other fora, R’ Kahane spoke about how democracy (within certain limits, as all democracies have) is just fine.

    You are correct. I never followed him and I am basing my posts entirely on this book.

    Shmuel Silberman: During Kahane’s lifetime there was little or no discussion of his views.

    I suggest that this was because he laced his speeches with extreme rhetoric, like declaring all who disagreed with him as being not just wrong but influenced by gentile thought. It’s hard to take seriously someone who resorts to those kinds of debating tactics. Although someone linked on a prior post to a lengthy study of R. Kahane’s views by Prof. Aviezer Ravitzky.

    Interestingly this post omits discussion of Kahane’s view of non-Jews. He said Arabs could not vote, and had to leave if they did not cooperate with this arrangement.

    Hopefully the next post.

  20. NACHUM:

    “fora”

    really?
    (yes, i’ve taken latin myself)

    “I’m in favor of democracy for every Jew in Israel”

    that’s democracy?
    i guess every country gets to define criteria for full citizenship (subjecthood, denization, whatever)

    IH:

    “are existance proofs of democratic countries that have found legal ways to maintain their unique peoplehood character (e.g. Japan).”

    please explain.

  21. IH says:

    Thanks, Nachum. I obviously disagree, but that’s separable from making sure I understand the other point of view.

    Thanks to Gil as well, for initiating a dispassionate (thus far) discussion of a difficult topic.

  22. NACHUM:

    still rubbing my eyes and i had to google it. i thought this was an interesting perspective:
    http://www.usingenglish.com/weblog/archives/000121.html
    some say fora is reserved references to public square.
    otherwise it is an accepted (secondary according to some) usage.
    shabbat shalom

  23. IH says:

    Abba — see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_nationality_law and if you’re interested, click on 3 “See also” links.

  24. IH says:

    Language morphs. Indices -> Indexes, Appendices -> Appendixes, Fora -> Forums, Data are -> Data is…

    Liturgy does too, as per the parallel discussion on L’Shem Yichud :-)

  25. IH:

    i read wiki and the link from note 3.
    i don’t see anything radical there, certainly nothing wrt to actual definition of japanese nationality. seems the same as any western country. process for an alien acquiring citizenship seems normal also.
    things get a little trickier with the articles on dual nationalism, but even so, nothing radical. (isn’t there a statement in american passport as well wrt to taking up arms or swearing allegiance to a foreign country?, although obviously this is not enforced)
    in any case, i’m not sure how the japanese example, at least on paper, is instructive?

  26. Charlie Hall says:

    IH, most countries in the Eastern Hemisphere base nationality on *jus sanguinis*, not just Japan.

  27. wrt sui sanguinis vs. jus soli, as i read it japan isn’t really a sui sanguinis state as (i thought) IH was saying.
    the law doesn’t say that be citizen the parent has to be japanese by blood, but rather the parent has to be a japanese national. and since there is a process for non-japanese (i.e., from a “racial” perspective) acquiring citizenship, for our purposes how is japan not jus soli?

  28. ok, wait, i see. japan doesn’t grant automatic citizenship to someon born in the country.
    but still, it seems that japan is still not jus sanguinis (as conventionally defined)
    and i’m not sure how it is intructive for israel

  29. apparently jus soli is almost exclusively confined to the western hemisphere (not surprisingly)

  30. Hirhurim says:

    Shasdaf: Thanks for the reference to R. Yehudah Levy’s book. I’m a big fan of the book but haven’t look at it in a few years.

    Why don’t you suggest theocracy (I guess it’s similar to your constitutional-democracy model)?

    Theocracy doesn’t give enough information on how the government is run. Who is making the daily decisions?

    Jon_Brooklyn: Thanks!

    Nachum: The whole book has the tone of “I’m right. Everyone who disagrees with me is influenced by the goyim.” I don’t have the book in front of me so I can’t give specific examples but it jumps out on every page.

  31. IH says:

    As a practical matter, it is next to impossible for a gaijin — even one that has lived in Japan for years — to become a Japanese citizen; unlike “most countries in the Eastern Hemisphere”.

    Similarly, these non-citizens do not have the legal protections for non-citizens like “most countries in the Eastern Hemisphere”.

    Yet, Japan is a parlamentary democracy.

  32. IH says:

    Abba — sorry for the confusion caused by my missing a “the”. My followup was to the 3 “See also” articles, not footnote 3. Just for clarity.

  33. Nachum says:

    Charlie, so do lots of European countries. It’s a lot easier to become an Irish or Italian citizen, say, if your grandparents were. (Part of this is to attract American capital, of course.)

    Anon. 9:26 was me, of course.

    Gil: Good points on the monarchy. As long as we’re quoting Shmuel, the conservative/libertarian in me wants to point out that he feels that a 10% tax rate is outrageous. :-) (We see the same at the end of Vayigash- emergency taxes there are 20%.)

    As to Mr. Silberman- he was discussed plenty, albeit in secular forums (or fora, whatever). Orthodoxy seemed to ignore him mostly, for various reasons. (He was chutz lamachane for charedim, whose rank and file may have agreed with him anyway. Those MO who dealt with him tended to approach him from the same angles as the secular.)

    “that’s democracy?”

    The Law of Return is democracy? The Electoral College is democracy? The Queen of Canada and Australia is democracy?

  34. Nachum says:

    Whoops, Europe *is* in the Eastern Hemisphere. Well, it’s true of even American ones. I once read that only the US and Canada have birthright citizenship.

  35. IH says:

    Nachum’s last point is important. When we talk about democracy, we do not mean literal democracy, which has never existed in practice.

    Most people, I think, believe the essence of democracy is “majority rule with minority rights”. And as I recently quoted in another thread, implementation — certainly in the USA — includes institutional dampeners “to restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy.”

  36. nachum:

    the wiki entry on jus soli indicates it defines entire western hemisphere (see map on bottom)
    which makes sense

  37. IH:

    “As a practical matter, it is next to impossible for a gaijin — even one that has lived in Japan for years — to become a Japanese citizen; unlike “most countries in the Eastern Hemisphere”.”

    the law in the wiki article seemed clear
    what are the practical obstacles that make it so difficult?

    ” My followup was to the 3 “See also” articles, not footnote 3″

    the only relevant item i saw in “see also” was wrt koreans post war. is it the same situation today?

    in any case, while this tangent is educational, to return to the point of departure, how do you see it being instructive for israel? (and taken to its logical conclusion, can’t it be used to justify even revoking citizenship?)

  38. IH says:

    It is also worth pointing out that in very recent years Western Europe has been debating these issues as well, catalyzed by the separatism and extremism of immigrant muslims. So no one country is in a position to pontificate a solution to Israel’s challenge.

    Thus, I think it is reasonable to conclude that Israel can successfully be both a Jewish State and a Modern Democracy. Kahane’s rhetoric (and its persisting milder forms) is a false dichotomy as long as Israel does not annex the West Bank and Gaza into the State of Israel.

  39. IH says:

    Abba — my sole point on Japan was that it is an existence proof of a parliamentary democracy with very tight controls on citizenship for the purpose of maintaining a racial/cultural identity. North America and Europe are not the only models.

  40. IH:

    ” as long as Israel does not annex the West Bank and Gaza into the State of Israel”

    why is this a problem if israel uses jus sanguinis? because it will be a country with a minority of citizens?
    (are there any democratic counties–not including the gulf states–that don’t have a majority of citizens, or a majority of eligible voters?

  41. IH:

    “tight controls on citizenship for the purpose of maintaining a racial/cultural identity”

    are you ok with that?

  42. IH says:

    Yes, in principle.

  43. “the Jewish nation is governed by the Torah”

    this theocratic platform is one thing that turned me off to kahanism.
    which interpretation of the torah are we talking about?

  44. ysh says:

    RD Sol Roth has written and lectured on “Judaism and Democracy”. One example from the TuMJ in 1990 is at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/704412/Rabbi_Sol_Roth/Judaism_and_Democracy.

    In fact, R. Gil already discussed RD Roth’s approach at http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/11/democracy-in-judaism.html. It might be interesting to compare/contrast RD Roth’s approach with Kahane’s.

  45. IH says:

    More precisely and including your previous comment, Abba, assuming a context of two states for two peoples — by which I mean the Palestinians recognize the self-determination of the Jewish People in the territory of Israel; and Israel recognizes the self-determination of the Palestinian People in the territory of Palestine — then I am ok with the principle of tight controls by each on citizenship for the purpose of maintaining a racial/cultural identity.

  46. Charlie Hall says:

    ” i’m not sure how the japanese example, at least on paper, is instructive?”

    Japan, like most countries in the Eastern Hemisphere, bases nationality on *jus sanguinis* — right of blood (ancestry), rather than birth. Pakistan is a notable exception.

  47. Nachum says:

    “as long as Israel does not annex the West Bank and Gaza into the State of Israel.”

    Which, of course, is a Kahanist (and other parties too) platform. Hey, a Kahanist would toss in the Sinai and more into the deal. A good Likudnik would toss in Jordan. :-)

    “by which I mean the Palestinians recognize the self-determination of the Jewish People in the territory of Israel”

    Not very likely, as you know. More likely: Every Jew is tossed out of Palestinian territory, and citizenship is limited to Arabs (and likely only Muslims). Meanwhile, Israel is expected to continue to extend full rights to all non-Jews, and even change Hatikva and, who knows, its very name, to accommodate them, while continuing to give up land. All the while, of course, continuing to face critics (probably eagerly joined by the Beinarts of the world) who call for the end of Israel entirely.

    If that’s the alternative, I’d hope that any fair and normal minded person would pick Kahanism.

    Abba: Good question.

    General question: Are there any countries that have *both* forms of citizenship?

  48. IH says:

    Nachum — let’s stick to the dispassionate debate. ok? I won’t misrepresent your view and don’t misrepresent mine.

  49. shaul shapira says:

    Yeyasher koach, R Gil. Much to think about. So far the conversation’s civil. Hope it remains that way.
    Anyone intersted in doing a public service should attach a link to this post on R Kahane’s wiki page.

  50. RK says:

    There are definitely foreigners who naturalize in Japan — here’s an article by one of them. It’s not as easy as in the US, but it’s far from impossible. The largest category of resident foreigners — zainichi Koreans — have been eligible for Japanese citizenship for a while now. The fact that many of them don’t take it indicates that (as with East Jerusalem Palestinians) their legal situation isn’t that dire.

  51. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Nachum, regarding 20% tax rates, that’s in a subsistence-economy with no government infrastructure apart from a temple and a military to speak of. If people lost 20% of their crops, it’s likely some would starve to death.

  52. avi says:

    ““the Jewish nation is governed by the Torah”

    this theocratic platform is one thing that turned me off to kahanism.
    which interpretation of the torah are we talking about?”

    I understand what you are really asking, but frankly, I think it’s a bad question.

    In theory, if the government was run by Torah law, then the interpretation of Torah that they would follow would be their own.

    There are a few ways a government might run like this. 1. They can require that any law passed be based on a Talmudic or Tanach phrase, the way asmachtahs currently work in the Talmud. 2. They can provide proof, from historical precedence, that this is how Torah law is or was followed, or 3. They can use any collection of Torah sources that the Government approves as being valid Torah sources. Perhaps they will allow all three methods, and the various members of the government, representing the various groups of Israel would then argue and duke out over who’s interpretation for any given law would preside.

    The idea that there would be a single view of what Torah says, goes against the history of Judaism and what we learn in Yeshivahs. If it so happens that some members of the government would know Tanach and Talmudic verses, that people who ended up going to Yeshiva were unaware of, or hadn’t thought about, then all the better.

    It’s not like Judaism is run by a Church which discourages it’s laymen from learning and reading and knowing what the texts say.

  53. Nachum says:

    IH: I do apologize. I didn’t think I was misrepresenting your argument- I still can’t see how I did- only responding to yours. Again, sorry if I did.

    Jon: My point is that Yosef *did* take 20% from them. Of course, he was taking it so as to ultimately make sure they *didn’t* starve to death.

    (By the way, between Maaser, Maaser Sheni, etc., Jewish law takes more than that.)

  54. Shlomo says:

    Kahane’s rhetoric (and its persisting milder forms) is a false dichotomy as long as Israel does not annex the West Bank and Gaza into the State of Israel.

    Israel+the West Bank still has a significant Jewish majority. At the current pace the fertility rates of Israel and the West Bank will be equal within 3 years, with the Jewish rate still rising and the Arab rate falling. While it is dangerous to base one’s survival on long-term demographic projections, it is not at all clear that annexing the West Bank will at all endanger the Jewish majority. Gaza is of course another story.

    Also, many advocates of a 2 state solution also advocate large-scale Palestinian immigration through “family unification” programs, which casts doubt on the demographic justification they cite for leaving the West Bank.

  55. BH says:

    Whether or not Judaism allows for non-monarchy type rule was not the essential message of Rav Kahane. His essential message is that full-fledged Western democracy in Israel clashes with Judaism since non-Jews have no right to rule over Jews.

  56. BH says:

    It is clear that Rav Kahane’s idea of a Torah state does allow for different opinions. He was well aware of the fact that Judaism has within it different positions.

  57. zach says:

    However, this objection is insufficient to reject democracy entirely because there is a democratic alternative which resolves this problem: a constitutional democracy in which the democratically elected government is unable to pass laws contrary to its Torah-based constitution.

    Bogus “resolution”. A Torah-based “constitution” is not comparable to one of a democratic society for one very critical reason: its authority is deemed to be ultimate and thus is not subject to repeal.

  58. IH says:

    Shlomo — the Jewish population of the West Bank is included in the State of Israel population (5.9m) wheras the Arab population is not included in the Israeli Arab population (1.6m).

    According to the World Bank data, the Arab population of the West Bank is about 2.6m (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza adds another 1.6m.

    I do not know if the East Jerusalem Arab population is double-counted in the above, but that is fewer than 300K people.

  59. IH says:

    Net net: if Israel were to annex the West Bank today, the(best case) population of Israel would shift from 5.9m Jews and 1.6m Arabs to 5.9m Jews and 3.9m Arabs. This would increase the Arab population from 21% to 40%.

    n.b. I have assumed 300K East Jerusalem Arabs are already included in the current Israeli population in the above calculations making it the best case. If they are not, then the ratios above grow worse by 300K Arabs.

  60. chaim28 says:

    The authors argument is not with Kahane, but with the Rambam. However, Rav Kahane was right demorcracy in the western sense(which he stated many times in his speches which the author left out) was totally contridictory to Judaism. Simply it means the biggest gang rules. While Jews in Israel are a majority, then we rule. However, when the Arabs become the majority, than they rule. There birth rate is much higher than the secular Israeli birth rate by 9 times. The question the Rabbi posed is that is the Arabs become a majority, than do they have the right to vote the state out of existence and call it a Palestine, revoke the law of return that applies to Jews only, change the national anthem that speaks of the soul of a Jew yearning..? If you are for demorcracy then yes, but you are anti zionist, if no than you are a Zionist,but anti demorcracy.

    In fact the Hazan Ish, says enen in the time of galuth we still have an obligation to kick non Jews out of Israel if we have the ability to do so. He quotes the Natziv saying selling land of Israel to a non Jew is treif like cooking milk and meat together. Under demorcracy you dont sell the land you give it away by default of the majority non Jewish vote.

    Any other way you try to neglet this reality about demorcracy, then you are really anti Zionist(anti Jewish) because you are allowing the Arabs to take over through demorcracy. In this sence the Rambam was much superior to all other alternative opinions, and so, Rabbi Kahane was Right!

  61. Harold says:

    Rabbi Kahane advocated a Jewish democracy based upon Torah principles. I believe that Moshe Feiglin advocates more or less the same thing.

    Can any honest frum Jew deny that a Jewish State should be run in accordance with Torah principles?

  62. mycroft says:

    “I suggest that this was because he laced his speeches with extreme rhetoric, like declaring all who disagreed with him as being not just wrong but influenced by gentile thought. It’s hard to take seriously someone who resorts to those kinds of debating tactics.”
    M Kahane also would personally attack those who disagreed with him.
    He would use victims of terrorist attacks for his political gain wo their permission.

  63. Harold says:

    “He would use victims of terrorist attacks for his political gain wo their permission.”

    Since when does anybody need to ask permission to mention current events when advancing one’s goals?

    May Hashem avenge the murder of Rav Kahane by the barbarian, El Sayid Nosair.

  64. avi says:

    chaim28, I think you are wrong.

    In America, so far 3 states have used democracy so ban gay marriage. The courts said such laws are not allowed. The Majority did not get their way. You can do the same thing in Israel, and allow Arabs to vote, without allowing them to change the nature of character of Israel.

    It’s outright foolishness, and true anti-zionism and a lack of faith in Hashem to say that you can’t have Democracy in Israel and keep it a Jewish Country.

  65. Harold says:

    The Arabs are already at least 20.6 percent of the population within the green line alone. Rav Kahane was right. They must be prevented from “democratically” destroying the Jewish State.

  66. avi says:

    They can be prevented from destroying the Jewish state with Democratic measures, such as laws maintaining the Jewish nature of the State obviously. You don’t have to revoke their voting rights.

  67. chaim28 says:

    So Avi under democracy would it be fair to let an Arab be a minister of defence? How about Prime Minister? Why not? Under democracy they can eliminate the law of return which applies to Jews only. Under demoracy they can make it apply to Arabs too. However, if the so called Arab refugees return we surly be in the minority, and they will put an end to the democracy you cherish. Look how wounderful it is to live as a minority in other Arab countries. I guess you are willing to sacrifice Israel for demorcracy. I don’t know where that is in the Torah.

  68. avi says:

    “So Avi under democracy would it be fair to let an Arab be a minister of defence? How about Prime Minister? Why not?”

    If he served in the Army, and the politics allowed for it, why not?

    “Under democracy they can eliminate the law of return which applies to Jews only. Under demoracy they can make it apply to Arabs too. ”

    How do you propose they do that? They would have to somehow change the way that all the laws in Israel pass, and completely redo the government for that to even ever be a possibility. They could be 60% of the population and they would not be able to get that past the courts.

    “However, if the so called Arab refugees return we surly be in the minority, and they will put an end to the democracy you cherish.”

    No, YOU want to put an end to the democracy we cherish. Not them.

    ” Look how wounderful it is to live as a minority in other Arab countries. I guess you are willing to sacrifice Israel for demorcracy. I don’t know where that is in the Torah.”

    You want to sacrifice Torah for racism, and and replace critical thinking with fascist brainwashing.

    The Torah says not to oppress the stranger that lives among us. That includes, in the era of moshiach of not taking away their basic right to vote in a democracy.

  69. Y. Aharon says:

    The position cited in the name of R’ Meir Kahane appears to be a superficial reading of sources. The Rambam in MT, hilchot Melachim 1:1 does accept the view of the Tanna, R’ Yehuda (R’ Yossi in another girsa) that there is a biblical command to appoint a king (as opposed to R’ Nehorai who considers it a conditional mitzvah). In halacha 3, however, he states that a king, not of the ruling dynasty, is appointed only by approval of both the Sanhedrin and a prophet. Given the fact that there has not been a legitimate king in Israel for over 2.5 millenia, establishing a monarchy in modern times would require the prior establishment of a Sanhedrin and the appearance of a certifiable prophet. Moreover, in halacha 9, he states that only someone from the Davidic line has the right of dynastic kingship. Such restrictions on the appointment of a king is apparent from the biblical sources, starting with ” You shall, indeed, appoint a king whom GOD will choose..” (Deut. 17:15). In practice, then, the next king of Israel will be the messianic figure who will be selected by a prophet. What has this to do with governing the state of Israel today?

    The problems with democratic rule have been long recognized. It has been equally recognized, however, that other forms of government are prone to even greater excesses and injustice. It is strange to attribute the need for a monarchy to the torah, when the torah established the leadership of Moshe and Joshua without any declaration of kingship (strong leadership is not the same as a monarchy). Moreover the torah appears to condition the establishment of a king to the expressed desire of the people for such a leader (Deut.17:14). The upshot of this argument is that it appears to be up to the people to decide their form of government – at least in the absence of a legitimate patrilineal descendant of David who meets the character requirements of a messianic figure.

    The issue with a government not following the torah in its enactments, is a red-herring since we have no assurance that a monarch (other than the messianic king) will follow GOD’s will, either. Perhaps R’ Kahane believed that has he been chosen “Nasi”, he would have followed torah and halacha. I had no such confidence in the man. In fact, history – both ancient and modern, has provided ample examples of the adage, “power currupts..”.

    This is not to say that the coalition style of government that has prevailed in Israel is commendable. I would much prefer the leadership of a strong and forward-looking individual not beholden to party and coalition politics.

  70. Nachum says:

    Avi used the word “fascist”! Yay!

  71. chaim28 says:

    “You want to sacrifice Torah for racism, and and replace critical thinking with fascist brainwashing.”

    Racisim means, in the classic example, that Aryan geans are superior to non Aryan geans. And that you can never be superior like them. Judaism say we are the chosen people, and any non Jew who chooses to convert can be as good as anyother Jew, especially an Avi.

    What I was doing is stating that Torah is not necessarly Western Demorcracy. It’s not that I was replacing Torah for racism, but that you really think Torah concepts are racists. BTW labeling is the last refugee of the non thinker.

  72. BH says:

    It takes no small degree of insanity to believe that Arabs should have the “right” to be voted into the Knesset and fight Israel from within, which is exactly what the well-known Arab member of Knesset, Ahmed Tibi does. What does this have anything to do with Torah values or halakha?

  73. Baruch says:

    I think it is a mistake to treat R. Kahane as a posek or Jewish philosopher. I know he often claimed to be presenting Torah truth, but that’s not really the way he presents himself in his English works or in his rallies. In those contexts, he presents himself as a common sense nationalist, and I think he, and his ideas, should be judged in that light.

    In fact, in his last work (“Israel: Revolution or Referendum”), I find his secular arguments regarding the illegitacy of Israel’s government much more compelling than his Torah arguments (which only comprises one chapter).

    Although he used to say that he was a rabbi who happened to be involved in politics, I think he is best judged as a nationalist who happened to have been a rabbi.

    Whether the Torah obligates us to kick out the Arabs is not the main point. The main point is whether it is smart to do so. If you read R. Kahane’s English writings and watch his speeches, you will see that he appeals to arguments and emotions much more than he does to Torah authority.

  74. Harold says:

    Rabbi Kahane believed that there is a milchemet mitzvah to expel the Arabs. He also believed that there are secular arguments to do so.

  75. Nachum says:

    “They would have to somehow change the way that all the laws in Israel pass, and completely redo the government for that to even ever be a possibility. They could be 60% of the population and they would not be able to get that past the courts.”

    1) Majority rule is majority rule. Why couldn’t they?

    2) They’re not as devoted to democratic principles as you are. They get power, they’ll use it. Sharia and all.

    3) The Supreme Court would be too glad to go along (of course, they’d cease to exist shortly after).

    “No, YOU want to put an end to the democracy we cherish. Not them.”

    “We” cherish? What you mean “we,” white man?

    And, as said above, they have no such compunctions. Remember what Lenin said about capitalists and ropes.

    “You want to sacrifice Torah for racism, and and replace critical thinking with fascist brainwashing.”

    Ah, the “r” and “f” words. Let me just point out that fascism has a very specific meaning, and R’ Kahane was not one. (Of course, years ago, Orwell said that “fascism” had come to mean “something I don’t like.”)

    “The Torah says not to oppress the stranger that lives among us.”

    Who’s oppressing? Taking away a vote is oppressing? It’s less oppressing than killing the seven nations, men, women, and children (something else in the Torah).

    “That includes, in the era of moshiach of not taking away their basic right to vote in a democracy.”

    Do you mean *not* in the era of Mashiach? If not, you’re not making any sense. Mashiach equals “democracy?” If so, you’re conceding the point.

  76. chaim28 says:

    Where were all these so called Torah “scholars” when the Rabbi was alive? It’s so easy to debate him after he is not around. Not only Rabbi Kahane’s views are from an authentic Torah perspective, but Rav Kamenisky, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Tendler, Rav Zilberman and many others supported him. If your uncomfortable with authentic Torah values, then be honest. Stop slandering. It only weakens your argument. I’m waiting for Musims to allow an artical speaking positively about Rabbi Kahane. Where’s your balance?

  77. Hirhurim says:

    R. Eliezer Waldenburg–author of 20+ volumes of Tzitz Eliezer–was a leading posek in the world and a Religious Zionist. He published his writings on this subject in the 1950′s.

    R. Shlomo Goren was the founding Chief Rabbi of the IDF and later Chief Rabbi of Israel.

    R. Shaul Yisraeli was a Ram in Mercaz HaRav, a top dayan for the Israeli Rabbinate, member of the Chief Rabbinate’s council and founder of Kollel Eretz Chemdah for Religious Zionist dayanim.

    None are alive today but all published prolifically during their lifetimes. R. Goren and R. Yisraeli edited Torah journals.

  78. Harold says:

    I also heard that Rav Tendler, Rav Kaminetzky, Rav Pam, Rav Eliyahu,Rav Zilberman supported Rav Kahane. I guess they must have “gone crazy.”

  79. Hirhurim says:

    They may have supported elements of R. Kahane’s approach but there is no way that R. Yaakov Kamenetsky or R. Avraham Pam supported R. Kahane’s program or style. It would be beyond uncharacteristic — unthinkable.

  80. IH says:

    Gil — Given your excuse for not calling certain people “R.” — i.e. “everybody calls him Prof.” — I am wondering why someone whom everybody calls Meir Kahane, is titled as “R.”?

  81. Harold says:

    Rav Kaminetzy and Rav Pam agreed with the essential message. They may not have liked Rav Shach’s style either which was caustic.

    Come to think of it there is a certain similarity between Rav Kahane and Rav Shach. Both had caustic, fire and brimstone styles.(Publically, that is. Privately, I understand that both were sweet as sugar.) Both also spoke much truth.

  82. Hirhurim says:

    Rav Kaminetzy and Rav Pam agreed with the essential message

    Which essential message? And how do you know this?

  83. Nachum says:

    IH, I’ve seen “Rabbi” a lot. Even Tom Wolfe calls him “Rabbi” in “Radical Chic.”

  84. Student V says:

    It makes no sense to assess his work or views on the premise of “is his view the only legitimate Torah view?” Everyone thinks their own view is the correct one. And of course you can always find someone who thought differently or derived something else from what they interpreted. That in itself doesn’t discredit someone’s view. I don’t think you would judge any other scholar by this standard (ie, is Rav shach’s viewpoint on xyz the only legitimate Torah view… and if not then what? Would you draw the same conclusions about Rav Shach -or whoever- as you do about Rav Kahane?) The whole exercise is silly.

    We are talking about hashkafa. Of course there are multiple views. But a person has to decide for himself, based on the evidence being presented for the different viewpoints, which seems most correct. Which seems to them to have the best case for being right. Or in some cases perhaps a combination of different factors from multiple hashkafot might seem the wisest choice. I certainly believe that those who oppose the major viewpoints of Rav Kahane usually do so from a warped hashkafa which makes no sense to me. And the point about democracy being incompatible with Judaism is not the nature of voting in and of itself, but the fact that the democracy we are all used to involves voting for enemy nonJews who could by majority take over the country and warp it into something nonJewish. How could anyone argue that THAT aspect of democracy (in modern parlance) is compatible with Torah? You would have to rewrite the Torah.

  85. IH says:

    Nachum — “Even Tom Wolfe” — how droll. BTW, on Orwell and use of words, you may be interested in http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/05/14/120514crbo_books_acocella?currentPage=all

  86. noone in particular says:

    keep this up. it’s about time someone demolished kahane and kahanism thoroughly so brooklyn jews can’t keep on acting like he was kosher in any shape or form. kol hakavod.

  87. Nachum says:

    IH: I happen to love Wolfe, but I just meant it as a non-Jew unconcerned with Jewish title etiquette. (I’m not big on using “rabbi” a lot myself.)

    noone, nice.

  88. avi says:

    Nachum…

    1) Majority rule is majority rule. Why couldn’t they?

    Because only an idiot (or someone with a 5th grade education), thinks that modern democracies function on pure “majority rule.” It’s a straw man, and pure stupidity.

    2) They’re not as devoted to democratic principles as you are. They get power, they’ll use it. Sharia and all.

    I don’t care what they are devoted to. If the Arabs are 60% of the country, they will be Fighting us with weapons, not democratic votes. There is no need to take their right to vote away.

    3) The Supreme Court would be too glad to go along (of course, they’d cease to exist shortly after).

    I think you are wrong. They care more about western style government than they do about being a “pure democracy”

    “No, YOU want to put an end to the democracy we cherish. Not them.”
    “We” cherish? What you mean “we,” white man?

    “we” was in response to “you”.

    And, as said above, they have no such compunctions. Remember what Lenin said about capitalists and ropes.

    Why? Is it relevant? How?

    “You want to sacrifice Torah for racism, and and replace critical thinking with fascist brainwashing.”

    Ah, the “r” and “f” words. Let me just point out that fascism has a very specific meaning, and R’ Kahane was not one. (Of course, years ago, Orwell said that “fascism” had come to mean “something I don’t like.”)

    “fascism” means state control over the private functioning of businesses. It gains this control by promoting propaganda and using bad logic to make people think that their only option is the option that is being presented to them, when any clear thinking person can see that it is NOT the only option.

    “The Torah says not to oppress the stranger that lives among us.”

    Who’s oppressing? Taking away a vote is oppressing? It’s less oppressing than killing the seven nations, men, women, and children (something else in the Torah).

    If you think that taking away people’s rights to vote is a perfectly normal and sane thing to do, and is not oppressive in the modern world, than you truly are an idiot.

    In a world where killing and pillaging was normal governmental conduct, doing so is normal. Today it is not normal, and we can not engage in that behavior without a Prophet telling us to do so. We also can’t remove the right of people to vote for their own self governance without a prophet telling us to do so. That’s what the Arab warlords do, not us.

    “That includes, in the era of moshiach of not taking away their basic right to vote in a democracy.”

    Do you mean *not* in the era of Mashiach? If not, you’re not making any sense. Mashiach equals “democracy?” If so, you’re conceding the point.

    Mashiach equals Mashiach. Democracy equals democracy. The era of mashiach which we are currently in, equals the era of mashiach which we are currently in. In today’s world, publicly declaring that you want to take away people’s right to vote, in my mind, makes you an idiot, and someone who has no appreciation for Torah.

    In a democarcy, you vote for people who will be part of the government, and maybe a referendum once in a while. That’s about it. You do not get to decide if the law follows the Torah or not. Only the people making the laws, and the judges determining if the laws are legal are able to do that.

  89. Nachum says:

    Wow. I get called an “idiot” three times in one post. Must be a record. May I appeal to the posters here to agree that I don’t really have to respond?

  90. IH says:

    Nachum — I meant droll as a compliment. It made me smile when you used him as a reference for your point. He would make a great Purim costume, btw, but few would get it (I have spotted him on the UES several times over the years).

  91. avi says:

    “Wow. I get called an “idiot” three times in one post. Must be a record. May I appeal to the posters here to agree that I don’t really have to respond?”

    Nachum, read carefully. I never called you an idiot.

  92. Nachum says:

    No, I noticed that you very carefully phrased it so as to allow wiggle room. Nice.

    IH: I remember a Simpsons episode where Tom Wolfe was speaking at a writer’s convention. Someone throws a tub of chocolate syrup on him, and he immediately rips off the (paper-thin) suit, revealing an identical one beneath.

    I think the movie “Madagascar” had a similar joke.

    Then there was the time I witnessed (and photographed) him making an obscene gesture at his audience as part of a reading from a book of his…oh, I love that man.

  93. avi says:

    “No, I noticed that you very carefully phrased it so as to allow wiggle room. Nice.”

    It was carefully phrased, but not for wiggle room. Ideas and notions are sometimes idiotic, and people who hold on to them might be idiots. It doesn’t mean the people promoting them are idiots though, nor would I call them as such.

  94. chaim28 says:

    “keep this up. it’s about time someone demolished kahane and kahanism thoroughly so brooklyn jews can’t keep on acting like he was kosher in any shape or form. kol hakavod”

    I guess doing the diffacult mitzva’s, like living in Israel, eliminating zera Amelek, Building the Beit Hamiqdash, and expelling the enemies from Israel is not kosher. Why dont you switch Rabbi Kahane for the Rambam and be more honest.

  95. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    I am very far from thinking like Nachum re Kahane, and am much closer to Avi’s view. But Nachum is right that Avi basically called him an idiot three times in one post. This is unacceptable. Avi could have made his basic points without being nasty. Nor does his wiggling impress me.

  96. avi says:

    “I guess doing the diffacult mitzva’s, like living in Israel, eliminating zera Amelek, Building the Beit Hamiqdash, and expelling the enemies from Israel is not kosher. Why dont you switch Rabbi Kahane for the Rambam and be more honest.”

    What you don’t understand is that destroying Amalek, and expelling the enemies from Israel has already been done and accomplished as best as is currently possible. If you want to expel the enemies from Israel, then you are going to have to use a much better measuring stick than, “the Arabs”. As for the Beit Hamikdash, that can also be built without expelling anybody. You just need to start building.

  97. Harold says:

    One of Rav’s grandsons was affiliated with Kahane movements and was very explicit about his grandfather’s support for Rav Kahane.

  98. Harold says:

    Btw, Rav Aviner who R’ Gil admires admires Rav Kahane’s essential message as well.

  99. Harold says:

    I think that it is crucial that people put aside Rav Kahane’s caustic style and focus on his essential message of the need to make a Torah state and expel the Arab enemy. And even if some who are more liberal-leaning have moral problems with this they need to acknowledge that expelling one’s enemy from Israel certainly jibes with a very reasonable understanding of Torah (in my opinion this is the reasonable interpretation.)

  100. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Harold: “One of the Rav’s grandsons” Which “Rav”? Are you possibly referring to Rav Soloveitchik?! Whose last public act was to insist that the Mizrachi vote in favor of a commission of inquiry into Sabra and Shatila? And if it is “that” Rav, then which grandson?

  101. mycroft says:

    “Lawrence Kaplan on May 17, 2012 at 10:28 am
    Harold: “One of the Rav’s grandsons” Which “Rav”? Are you possibly referring to Rav Soloveitchik?! Whose last public act was to insist that the Mizrachi vote in favor of a commission of inquiry into Sabra and Shatila?”
    Agree with Prof Kaplan-if there is one thingthat is certain about the Rav he would have despised the approach of Kahane.

  102. [...] our study of R. Meir Kahane’s Or Ha-Ra’ayon (link), we turn to his chapter (12) on revenge. R. Kahane sees revenge as an important tool in repairing [...]

  103. stefan says:

    First of all, I don’t see the reason at this point, with all the issues that are troubling the observant world today why you think it is important to try to bash Rabbi Kahane. Maybe a better thing would be to refute Yaron Yadan and his heresies which you have worked on previously. It seems something has ticked you off to suddenly devote all this time to Rabbi Kahane. Second of all are you working off the English or the Hebrew? Also are you familiar with Rabbi Kahane in the historical context? Do you have enough of a background on him to know and understand where he was coming from? Have you heard him speak? Or Haraayon was only in manuscript form when he was murdered and was meant to be part of a larger work. When he speaks of democracy he is speaking of Knesset in the 1980′s with the likes of Yossi Sarid and Shulamit Aloni. He speaks and writes from a practical position not spouting theories from an ivory tower. Of course he was against the western democracy that is Israel today but he was in the Knesset himself! He could see from the inside what a system it was. Of course a monarchy is not the ultimate system and you can snidely say it is the most goyish. Hashem should of course govern us directly without a king. But I just feel you are coming at this dryly. You need to find out and hear what the man actually said to the thousands who heard him and understood him.

  104. Anonymous says:

    “Agree with Prof Kaplan-if there is one thingthat is certain about the Rav he would have despised the approach of Kahane.”

    Well, it’s well known that in the sixties, at least, the Rav was prety solidly in favor of R’ Kahane’s actions. Take the man as a whole.

    Stefan is right on.

  105. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    anonymous: The debate here has been about Kahane’s views concerning democacy, expelling Arabs, etc. To introduce the fact that the Rav may have supported some of Kahane’s actions in the 60s, when Kahane was not as radical as he became later, is disingenuous and beside the point. I also supported some of Kahane’e activities in the 60s. So, does that make me a Kahane supporter? Give me a break.

  106. Yekutiel says:

    Rabbi Kahane indeed quotes the Rambam in his book Or Harayon and one can make the mistake of drawing a conclusion that Rav Kahane supported ONLY the Rambam’s view re King over Israel thereby rejecting any form of democracy. However, Rabbi Kahane in too many other places specifically expresses support for what he called “Democracy in Jewish Life”, and he even created a group with such a name. He also fought for a referendum in Israel and titled one of his last books “revolution or Referendum”.

    So it is absolutely false to draw the narrow misleading conclusions drawn in this piece from one Kahanist source and let us not forget that Or Harayon was never completed and segments of the book were published by Rav Kahane’s family after his death.

    Rabbi Kahane rejects modern western style principles referred to as principles of democracy and often said, “Judaism is not Thomas Jefferson.” And he is absolutely right about that. Western liberal principles of democracy are anathema to Jewish values on so many levels.

    Rabbi Kahane supported Jews determining their own fate in Israel and not allowing Israel to be destroyed by Arab bombs or Arab babies. He brought ample Torah sources to prove that according to halacha and Jewish halachic philosophy Jews are a chosen people with a chosen destiny. Intermarriage is a tragedy and a violation of basic halacha. Arabs or gentiles have no right to govern over Jews in the land. To those who believe in western style democracy. Kahane sounds like a racist. However, to those who believe in G-d and His Torah, Kahane’s teachings are not only a matter of common sense and Jewish survival but simple unadulterated Jewish law from Sinai.

  107. Harold says:

    It was Rav Pam’s grandson who was affiliated with a Kahane organization and who reported that his grandfather supported Rav Kahane.

  108. Harold says:

    Kudos to Yekutiel!

  109. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Harold: Thanks for the clarification. Just to be clear, however, I entirely disagree with you re your support of R. Kahane.

  110. Moshe says:

    OK great so yet another pseudo-scholarly bashing of a dead and righteous rabbi shall be chucked into the rubbish, where it belongs.

    It is sad to see how liberal, western Jews try by force to combine their warped western values with authentic Judaism. It is even sadder when this futile exercise is done in the name of halacha. And how they go literally meshugah when honest scholars like Rabbi Kahane point out the clear and obvious contradictions between western values and Torah values. What won’t they do to bash the messenger of truth who forces them to chose between Hashem and His Divine Torah and between democratic principles that are so painfully and diametrically opposed to Judaism.

    How easy it is to bash a dead Rabbi. Funny that we never saw the detractors have the intellectual courage to challenge Rabbi Kahane in his lifetime. Now, more than 20 years after his untimely murder, the Kahane-haters come out of the closet to challenge and distort his views that they deduce from a half written manuscript, while they know not of or refuse to placed the unfinished words written in the context of his other writings.

    How sad, that the folks who seek to bring shame to “Kahane” = authentic Judaism, bring nothing but shame unto themselves. Rav Kahane has enough talmidim to set the record straight with real live Torah sources from the living Torah. And that is what is meant by words of the Rabbis, that the righteous live on even after their death. Their authentic Torah continues to haunt frightened Jews who seek to run away from the Torah truth, even decades after their passing. And at the same time, the students of the Righteous RAV Kahane are still around to show the fraud and the distortion in the words of his detractors. So much for the belated attempt to defeat Rabbi Kahane in a debate. He wins hand down even from his kever.

    R Gil, nice try anyhow. Maybe you will have more success 30 or 40 years after his death. His words are still frswh enough in our memory to take your twisting of his words and views seriously. R Gil, 20 years is not enough, even for those of us with short memories.

    Zecher Tzadik Levracha, Shem reshaim Yirkav. May his memory be blessed and avenged.

  111. Dawidh says:

    There are two basic fatal flaws in this article. First, it understands the term democracy entirely differently from the way Rabbi Kahane did in the book, a fact that is readily apparent to anyone who is familiar with his other works and public statements. Democracy, here, does not refer to the broad uses of the term we sometimes think of, such as a constitutional republic per se, or any other institution with some democratic elements. Rather, he means democracy in the contemporary western liberal meaning of that word – a point he made often when speaking publicly. It is the concept of democracy as understood by most Israelis, who would never consider ethnic democracy or a constitutional democracy with a religiously-based constitution to be democracy at all. Rabbi Kahane, who it should be remembered wrote the book in Hebrew for an Israeli audience who have a narrow understanding of the word democracy, did not reject any democratic framework for governing institutions, only the western liberal concept of democracy.

    Secondly, the author of the article fails to understand the purpose of Ohr HaRayon or the text’s background. Yes, the text fails to examine conflicting opinions or interpretations, even of obvious or well known concepts – like the criticism of Am Yisrael’s choice of monarchy as being a gentile concept. The text we have was never intended to be a comprehensive halachic work that deals with each and every dissenting opinion or alternative interpretation. Doing so would, considering the breadth of concepts covered by the book, literally take a dozen volumes or more; its no wonder that R’ Waldenburg wrote an entire three volume book simply dealing with the issue of Jewish statehood and governance. The point of Ohr HaRayon is to convey what Rabbi Kahane considered the overarching “idea” of Judaism and then briefly assess a series of important topics vis-a-vis this “idea”. He did intend, after the book would be finished, to write a far longer, more in-depth halachic analysis of the topics dealt with in Ohr HaRayon. The text as we have it conveys the broad “idea” of Judaism and how it is ideally meant to be realized in this world. Bide’eveds and nuances of halacha are not part of book and are not meant to be; it is meant to be a single text laying out a basic conceptual foundation.

  112. Yankel Rabinovich says:

    I have learned to respect the late Rabbi Meir Kahane all the more after reading the diatribes against him in this article. Interesting how some are so obssessed with Rabbi Kahane decades after he was murdered. His racist truth is so powerful that it sends shockwaves down the spines of the spineless distorters of his work. So many years later the Rav’s words still rock the souls of some who simply refuse to understand that whether we like it or not, Kahane’s sources are based on Judaism. Yes, we are bothered by some of these truths and would rather they not be broadcasted publicly, but we can hardly blame his studends for defending him and bringing some of the many Torah sources that Kahane had to draw from.

    The ones to blame for this embarrassing situation, are the authors and detractors of this miserable piece against Kahane. What were you thinking? That you would bash the Rav and that his students would not quote some of his sources? Don’t you understand that these sources don’t only make Kahane look bad. They make all of us and the Torah sources he relied upon look horrible and racist. It is articles like this that ultimatley promote anti-Semitism, as any goy can learn now online just how authentic Kahane’s dangerous rhetoric is in halachic sources. Have you gone made to challenge Kahane or his students in a Torah debate, where they will bring sources from Rambam and Shulchan Aruch and the like?

    Ignore him or challenge him in a secular debate, not a Torah debate. You have no chance to prove that he lacks Torah sources. We all know he has many many Torah sources so why go there at all?

  113. Harold says:

    Yankel,

    Very strange.

  114. Yekutiel says:

    what is strange? That suddenly there is silence here when Kahane people begin to appear and show the abundance of Torah sources that Rabbi Kahane of Blessed Memory bases his authentic Torah views on. Now it is clear why all of the courageous attackers of Kahane, twenty years after his murder, have crawled back into their holes. Nothing to answer? Strange?

  115. stefan says:

    Show us the racism Yankel Rabinovich (Oh that is such a fake name)

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