Will Israel Have A 'King' Soon? The Modern-Day Sanhedrin Say "YES!"

from Yaakov Katz
THE JERUSALEM POST - January 12, 2005

Will Jews begin proclaiming "Long live the king" in the near future?

According to a group of 71 Jewish scholars who met this week in the Old City of Jerusalem in the form of a modern-day Sanhedrin "a duplicate of the religious tribunal which convened during the time of the Second Temple" a coronation day is growing closer.

As one member of the group put it, "We would have liked it to happen yesterday. But we are willing to wait until tomorrow."

There hasn't been a genuine Sanhedrin in Israel for nearly 1,600 years; the last one to be proclaimed was in France, by Napoleon, for political gain. Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, religious affairs minister Judah Leib Maimon raised the notion of reinstituting the ancient body, to no avail.

The group composed largely of Kahane sympathizers that gave itself the name Sanhedrin in October, however, met Sunday to discuss the creation of a Jewish monarchy in the State of Israel.

For the past several years a group called the Monarchists has conducted extensive research into the lineage of several families in an effort to discover who has the closest bloodline to the biblical King David " a requirement for any future Jewish king.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan from Psagot, known for his recent threats to place a death curse on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is said to be a leading candidate to become the "king of Israel."

"Dayan has the best lineage to King David," several members of the Sanhedrin told The Jerusalem Post. They say he has two documented ancient sources which draw a direct line between him and the males in his family to King David some 3,000 years ago.

"Many people can show they are descendants of King David, but they cannot show that the line is only male," one Sanhedrin member explained. "That makes Dayan the leading candidate to become king."

The Monarchists have consulted with non-Jewish experts on lineage. They concurred that, without a doubt, Dayan is a direct descendent of the House of David.

The only question now is how to establish the Jewish monarchy in spite of the presiding democratic government.

"There are two possibilities," Dayan explained. "The first is that the nation or a majority from within will want the monarchy and will uproot the presiding democratic government."

The second, more realistic option, he said, is "the one cited by Maimonides" and that is that no one will know how it will be until it happens."

Some of the other ideas discussed at the Sanhedrin meeting included the construction of an altar on the Temple Mount to be used for the Passover Offering during the upcoming holiday.

One of the ideas, members said, is to climb the Mount and build the altar within minutes and sacrifice the lamb before security forces can stop them. Another, said leading Sanhedrin member Baruch Ben-Yosef, is to pray for a tsunami-like disaster on the Mount.

"In one second, God wiped out 150,000 people," he said. "Who knows? Maybe he'll help us if we show him we are ready."

Participants also discussed Ben-Yosef's idea of reinstating the Sanhedrin's authority to announce Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the new lunar month.

"It is very important to reinstate the Sanhedrin's authority to announce the month, because it will force people to understand that God gave us the power to control the calendar and our own destiny," Ben-Yosef said.

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Background on the Sanhedrin

"Sanhedrin" - (m., pl. "Sanhedriyaot") - 1. the Jewish "Supreme Court;" it consisted of seventy one great Torah Sages, who met in the "Lishkat HaGazit," the "Office of Hewn Stone," adjacent to the Temple in Jerusalem; 2. The Masechta, or Folio of the Talmud that discusses the activities of the Sanhedrin, and related matters.

The Rabbis who were the members of the Sanhedrin had all received "Semichah," the formal passing over of the Tradition from their teachers.

On the floor of the Sanhedrin were debated the fundamental principles of the Torah, and the result was established by majority vote.

Cases that were the most difficult or the most critical for the Jewish People were decided by the Sanhedrin. A majority had to be at least two votes. Any Capital case in which all the votes were for condemnation, was automatically changed to acquittal.

There is discussion in the Talmud of the question of how frequently capital punishment was imposed by the Sanhedrin, although the Torah does explicitly allow for it. Some said that a Sanhedrin that imposed the death penalty once in seven years was considered "bloody;" another opinion is that it was seventy years. Another said that it depended on the generation. Yet another was that restraint in imposing the death penalty would increase the number of murderers in Israel.

After the Temple was destroyed, the Sanhedrin moved from place to place in Israel. It finally was dissolved when, in the absence of the greatest Sages of Israel, the Institution of Semichah could no longer be applied.

During the Middle Ages, there was an attempt to revive the Sanhedrin by re-instituting Semichah. But due to opposition by some of the Torah Sages of that generation, the idea never became a reality.

The Sanhedrin was reestablished in a ceremony in Tiberias, where the original Sanhedrin was disbanded, on October, 2004 (Tishrei 5765).