David Wexelman
Rabbi and Author devoted to World Peace

The Holiness of Democracy

The holiness of Theocracy is the holiness of the nation which it governs whether it be the nation of Islam or the nation of Biblical Israel. Sharia or Torah are the laws given by God to man through a prophet.  The law is given by God to man as a commandment.  A commandment of God does not give free choice. The punishments for transgressing on the divine will and commandment is also part of the law. The law is holy and the nation of God is holy. In a Theocracy freedom is the devil. The permission given to change the law from whatever place it may come is the devil.  This permission may come from a rival nation a theocracy or from rebellion of the people from within. Sharia law which governs Islam is a theocracy.   Muslims claim it is the law of God given to Mohammed the last prophet. To Judaism and the Biblical Nation of Israel which came before Islam, the theocracy of Islam is the devil.  To Israel the Biblical nation of God, since Christianity came from the rebellion of the people from within the nation it is also the work of the devil.  To Islam, Baha”i faith is the devil because it came from a rebellious prophet living in the Ottoman Empire.  When the law of a theocracy is established it is considered sacred. Before it has become established there is still freedom like it was it the times of Judges the period in Biblical history prior to establishment of the Monarchy of the nation of Israel like it says at end of the Book Judges the history of this period, “In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

A nation needs a law, a constitution.  It also needs a land. The Land of Israel was chosen to give to the theocracy of King David promised by God to the forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Before entering the land Moses was shown the land by God like it says Deuteronomy 4, Go up to the top the Pisga, and lift up thy eyes westward, and northward, and southward and east toward Jordan.  There still remained for Joshua to take Israel into the land and to begin the conquest.  The conquest took 480 years until finally was established the Kingship.  The first King was Saul who was followed by his son in law David.  The son of David, king Solomon built the holy temple in Jerusalem.  The nation was a theocracy, the national Congress called the Great Sanhedrin met in the holy temple. After the theocracy of the Nation of Israel was established it became part of Judaism even after the nation was conquered by the Romans and exiled from Jerusalem and Israel.  The highest goal in Judaism is to reestablish the Nation of Israel like in Biblical times. Even before the establishment of the Modern State of Israel, Jews living in the diaspora would make pilgrimages to Israel. The Modern State of Israel is a democracy.  The holiness of a democracy does not come from a prophet like Moses or Mohammed.  The holiness of a Democracy comes from God directly.

In a theocracy there is freedom only to follow the commands, the statutes of their nation.  The nation has borders which it protects it from its enemies.  The Laws of the nation are also borders within the nation and its people which are protected by its police and court system.  Freedom in its essence has no borders. A nation without laws is an anarchy. In the times of Shoftim is written at the end of the book, Everyone did what was right in his own eyes; this is just an exaggeration.  There were judges in those times.  The word Shoftim is translated as judges. The laws of the nation were not completely established before the times of King David.  There was no one Congress in the whole land.  There were twelve tribes of Israel each one had its own congress. The laws which was given by Moses to Israel before they entered the land was not enforced strictly like after the establishment of the Kingship.  The people had more freedom.

The Babylonians conquered Israel and destroyed the temple.  Most of the nation was exiled to Babylon. After 70 years, Ezra the scribe led the Jews back to Israel to rebuild the nation and the temple in Jerusalem.  It says in the Talmud the tractate Eruchim that in this time Ezra wanted to destroy the evil inclination for idolatry in his times.  It says that he succeeded. Ezra for a short time was able to remove from the minds and hearts of the Jews the desire for freedom which is called the devil. The Torah given by Moses to the Jewish people the Oral law is for the establishment of a nation without evil.  In a nation without evil; there is no freedom; there is also no pleasure.  The sages of Israel knew this great secret how to control the evil inclination

Living in a theocracy like the Kingship of David there is holiness without freedom.  Freedom in Judaism is only at the time when a Jew learns Torah like it says, “There is no free man only who occupies himself in Torah.”  The Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt after 210 years of bondage by Moses through ten plagues which coaxed Pharaoh to let the people go free on Passover night.  Pharaoh had regrets and chased after the Jewish people when they approached the Red Sea and God split the sea for the Jewish people and the Egyptians in an attempt to capture them drowned in the sea.  The word for freedom in Hebrew Yitziat Mitzraim is mentioned fifty times in the Bible.  The Torah was given on the fiftieth day after Exodus.  The number fifty represents the culmination of redemption called the fiftieth gate.

Moses plans were changed after the building of the Golden Calf.  He saw that the people were not ready for freedom and democracy.  Instead he gave them a law for a theocracy the second set of tablets of the covenant the Ten Commandments.  Judaism today follows the laws and commandments of Moses which governed their nation during Biblical times.  Many Jews had regrets after the worshipping of the Golden Calf when the first tablets were broken by Moses with a constitution for the nation including in it freedom.  The word for freedom and engraved in the Hebrew language is the same word used to describe the writing on the first set of tablets by the finger of God.  Freedom is a gift.  The Torah is called a gift from God.  They lost the gift but wanted it back.  In Number 17 -18, Korach a distinguished member of the Congregation of Israel a Levite requested from Moses to give all Levites and Israelites an equal vote in the constitution of the nation.  Judaism under Jewish law has a hierarchy according to lineage.  Korach was asking for the nation to be a democracy.  He wore a Tallis prayer shawl all of the color blue like the color of the Israel flag without tsitis fringed threads like is today the custom. The threads represent the laws of the Torah which are 613. A nation a democracy would give the people free choice to keep the commandments.  The request of Korach and his supporters was rejected and the earth opened up and swallowed them up.  Democracy and freedom in those times was not practical.  Freedom is a gift and only God can grant to Israel freedom.  It was taken away from them at the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf.

Today after suffering under communism, the Spanish inquisition and pogroms in Europe, finally the Holocaust where six million Jews were killed without mercy; God has returned the gift of freedom and democracy which the Jewish people lost at the sin of the Golden Calf. Freedom was not practical in the days of Moses but today it is the growing way of the world.  America was founded with the declaration of Independence “With liberty and justice for all.” America has become the most powerful nation in the world.  In 1991 the Soviet Union fell from a communist state to a free nation. Most of the nations of the world are democratic except for several nation like China which may soon change over.  Theocracy is the way of dictatorship one party government.  Nazi Germany was a one party government which claimed t the supremacy of the Arian race.  The Jews were taken as scapegoats because Jewish law claims their blood is supreme.  One party governments like Biblical Israel cannot be trusted today because they are not part of the rest of the world.  Jewish law demands that the Jewish people separate themselves from the rest of the world.  A Jewish democracy is accepted by the world but not a religious state. The same problem exists with Islamic states that follow the Quran.  Their doctrines are more threatening to the Western World because the goals of Islam is to conquer the whole world.  Biblical Israel has a goal to return the sovereignty of its nation to the land of Israel but makes no claims about conquering the world. Even religious Zionism is seen as a threat to the western free world.

Democracy has come to the world as a gift from God. It has in it dangers of anarchy and extreme leftists  Democracy also needs a law with law enforcement and an army. Most important in a democracy is to maintain communication between all sides.  In democracy there is right and left. If either side will become too extreme it is a threat to national internal peace.  King Solomon said in Koheleth 7, there are two opposing sides which God has made; most important is to avoid extremes. Religion has an important place in Democracy to be a guide to people not to go to extremes.

Usually the law of God is called sacred and holy.  Torah and Sharia are called sacred and holy. Freedom is considered evil in a theocracy but may also be called Noga neither evil or holy.  Noga is one of the Klipot on the side of evil which has the potential to become holy when used properly.  Noga can even reach the highest levels of holiness. Chassidic Jewish men go to the Mikva each day even though it is not a commandment. The mikva elevates their holiness but men do not make a blessing before dunking in the waters which are prepared according to Jewish law. Happiness is not a commandment in itself unless it is connected to a Jewish holiday like Succot the time of happiness the holiday of joy or another Jewish occasion like a wedding or commanded joyous event.  When Rebbe Nachman said, It is a great mitzvah commandment to be happy always; this was not a Jewish law but Noga.  It is a mitzvah to watch over health.  Mental health has only recently become recognized in Jewish law as of utmost importance.  If a person jumped off the roof after giving his wife a divorce, the divorce is considered Kosher that he was not sick suffering from depression.  Democracy has the holiness of Noga.

Noga is related to the prophecy of Ezekiel about the divine chariot which is read on the holiday of Shevuot related to the giving of the Torah.  Divine Chariot is related to freedom and democracy.  Fundamental Judaism does not delve into the unities of the Divine Chariot.  Divine Chariot unites the right side of holiness with the left side of holiness. In theocracy there is only one side. Also the Jewish Star called Magen David is related to the wisdom of Divine Chariot. Even though today the Magen David is related to Judaism it does not appear in any Jewish manuscripts. A gentile who studied Kabballa asked the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneerson to explain to him the meaning of the Magan David.  The Rebbe said that we don’t learn about it. The Magan David is a universal symbol of the unity of God.  Judaism does not connect to Universal truth.  Democracy and freedom connects to universal truth but is not considered holy even considered profane sometimes.  How the Magen David became the symbol on the Israel flag the choice was made by God.  The color blue is the color which Korach chose as a symbol of freedom. The Hand of God uses even Secular Zionists in a way of divine providence. As long as democracy does not go to the extreme left, God will stand behind Israel.

About the Author
I live in Israel for 35 years. Father of 7 children living in Israel. Studied Judaism in Lubavitch, Breslov, Kabballa Yeshiva Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron. Runs two websites at: www.worldunitypeace.org www.progressivejewishspirituality.net Member of American Friends of Maccabee Institute in Israel a charitable organization which helps the poor and sick. You can donate at: https://www.maccabeeinstitute.org/ Writes blogs for communalnews.com
Comments