Kenneth Cohen

Ideal Society

The subject of a Jewish king, is very fascinating and perplexing. There is a clear contrast to the Torah’s description of a king, and that of the Prophet Shmuel.
The Torah describes a situation that when the Jewish people enter the land, they will ask for a king like other nations around them. When this happens, the king shall live according to the Torah’s guidelines. He may not have too many wives or horses, and he must carry the Torah scroll on his right arm.

There does not appear to be anything derogatory by making a request for a king. In the Book of Samuel, when this request is actually made, the prophet is furious. He is upset because the motivation of the people is to be like every other nation. They did not understand the true role of the king.

We all long for the coming of Mashiach, but did you know that the redeemer’s full name is, “מלך המשיח”? The ideal society of Israel calls for it to be “mostly democratic.” The limitations of this democracy, is that the majority cannot rule that they wish to change any part of Divine law.

The king, in a way, is meant to be a benevolent dictator, that has G-d given power, to overrule the wishes of the masses. In his exalted position, he must safeguard the Torah, and make sure that “the law of the land,” is the Torah.

He does this with the help of the Sanhedrin, but he is given a great deal of power. This is what we long for, when we pray for Mashiach. We yearn for a perfect society, where Hashem, truth, and justice reign.

This explains what has gone wrong with societies who emulate “democracy,” as the answer to all of its problems. There are no limitations as to what the majority might decide to change. They might legalize drugs, abortions, same sex marriages, or whatever their current democracy decides.

Because there is no monarch and no limitations, we end up with a breakdown of what is right and moral. There is chaos to the point where light is dark, and dark is light.

We must long for Hamelech Hamashiach, when we will witness the perfect society, as described in the Torah.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at