The Jewish nation: governed by rabbis or self-governed?

Commenting on one of my publications in the blog “Intellectual Judaism,” a strictly Orthodox man made the point that the whole Jewish Nation which is scattered in many non-Jewish nations of the world has – like other nations of the world – its own Written Law and its own national judges who are guarding the Law. This Orthodox man declared that the Written Law for the Jewish nation is the rabbinical rulings on the Torah and the judges are the rabbis.

That is true that the other nations of the world (except for dictatorships) have their governance based on the Written Laws and the guarding judges but not the Jewish Nation. Let’s take for example the USA and Israel and let’s contrast their governance with the governance of the Jewish Nation.

The Written Laws in the USA and Israel are the US Constitution and the Israeli Basic Law. In the USA and in Israel, the Written Laws are guarded by the democratically elected authorities. If the elected authorities are not doing good job in guarding the Law, they are democratically replaced by the new guarding authorities who may performed better.

The strictly Orthodox people insist the whole Jewish Nation have the Written Law as well, and that is the rabbinical rulings on the Torah, and the governing authority that must enforce this law is the rabbis.

However, this “Orthodox” Written Law, which is the rabbinical rulings on the Torah, is not well suited for the Jewish majority – not because the Jewish majority dislike the rabbis but rather because the rabbinical rulings made in the past for the historic life circumstances of the Jews in the Exile are not working at the completely different contemporary life circumstances.

Nowadays the Jews are looking for the guidance on how to preserve the Jewish moral rules of life while living in the non-Jewish democratic countries, and how to Jewishly influence the common morality there by the democratic means.

And here we observe a conflict between the rabbinical rulings which require the unquestionable obedience, and the Jewish Torah-based morality in the democratic public life where now the Jews are fully engaged and are building together with the others a better world for everybody.

The Jews are split — some of them follow the rabbinical rulings, and some do not. Those Jews who are satisfied with the rabbinical rulings follow them – they amount to about 20% of the whole Jewish Nation. The rest of the Jewish Nation, and that is about 80% of the Jews, is trying to create their own individual “rulings” on the Torah guidance suited to their unique individual public life circumstances – they are receiving the Torah guidance genetically and culturally from their forefathers, family and community.

About the Author
Vladimir Minkov graduated from the Naval Engineering Academy in the former Soviet Union, served in the Soviet Navy and there received his Ph.D. At the end of 1970s he immigrated to America where democracy and the Judeo-Christian spirituality of this country made it possible for him to actively defend both his scientific and spiritual ideas. In the USA he has found the place for his scientific public work in the spiritual realm of One God and Torah.
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