Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Do we need to honor a non-observant Jewish King?

One of the main sources for this question is the first pasuk of last week's haftorah (Parshas Pinchas). After Eliyahu Hanavi's success at Har Hacarmel, he is left alone with the King, Achav. Achav starts riding home all alone and Eliyahu runs in front of Achav's chariot to honor the King.

Here we have a fundamental dispute among the mefarshim down to our times. Why did Eliyahu Hanavi honor Achav by running in front of his chariot, after all Achav was a rasha? One school of thought answers that the Mitzva of giving honor to the King even applies to a rasha. The mitzva is to give honor to the office not the person. The King represents Hashems malchus on earth, whether he is a rasha or not is irrelevant. Others say that Achav did teshuva along with all of Bnei Yisrael and therefore Eliyahu honored him. However, you are not allowed to honor a King who is a rasha.

As expected, the Satmer Rebbe took the second approach while R' Henkin (writing before the State of Israel existed) assumed like the first approach.


Anonymous said...

great post,
See Sanhedrin 98a for elaboration
and rashi loc;citum.
Also Maharsha,zevachim98.
Does this apply even to Sharon?

bluke said...

There is a general question if a democratically elected leader has the din of a melech (relating to kavod, nafka mina making the bracha mentioned in Berachos and brought down lehalacha). I will post more on this in the future.

lamedzayin said...

As you no doubt know, RHS thinks the prime ministers of Israel have the status of melech rasha, which means honor them in their lifetimes but not after death.