According to the Torah, King Saul was the first king of Israel, and King David was the second king; followed by King Solomon. It was King Solomon who erected the first Jewish temple.
Therefore, the role of kingship and monarchy are significant aspects of Jewish history and the history of the Land of Israel. Although today Israel is a parliamentary, democratic republic with a president as head of state and prime minister as head of government, there is a possibility that Israel could one day become a royal monarchy.
I think modern Israeli society can learn a lot about Jewish royalty and monarchy from the Haredi communities.
For two years, I lived in the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community in B’nai Brak, Israel near Tel Aviv. In this faith-based city, Jewish royalty plays an important role in both Hasidic and non-Hasidic communities.
There are royal Jewish families such as the Teitelbaum family of the Satmar; the Halberstam family of the Sanz; the Rokeach family of Belz. Some of these royal Jewish families intermarry; such as when the daughter of the previous Vizhnitzer Rebbe (Hager) married one of the current Satmar Rebbes Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum.
Within the Haredi world, royal Jewish names such as “Schneerson” (Chabad) have a tremendous amount of power and influence.
In the future of modern Israel, it’s possible that one of these Jewish royal families could be established a king of modern Israel. Among European countries, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Spain, and Belgium are constitutional monarchies. It is possible the state of Israel will follow the examples of these countries.
While I was visiting the Netherlands, many Dutch people explained “the royal family unifies the Dutch people, and the royal family is symbolic of all Dutch people and dominions”. I was taken on tours of royal Dutch palaces and castles. It touched my heart to see the pride and joy of the Dutch people in regards to the House of Orange-Nassau, the royal house.
The Jewish people have a long history as a monarchy tracing its roots to when the Prophet Samuel anointed Saul as king of Israel (Melekh Israel). The king of Israel can serve as a figurehead with a symbolic role of bringing unity to the state of Israel and its citizens.
Currently, the president of Israel is the head of state. In a monarchy-parliamentary system, the king of Israel would serve as the head of state in a symbolic role. The president and prime minister would retain their current roles within the Israeli system.
Would it be practical for the state of Israel to become a monarchy? Would the people of Israel agree to select a king of Israel? Would a monarch bring greater unity and pride to the citizens of Israel?
As we critique Israel’s current system of government, let us contemplate the establishment of Israel as a democratic monarchy.