By Robert (editor) Chazan
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Additional info for AJS REVIEW The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies Vol. IX, No. 1 Spring 1984
For an explicit exegetical application to these passages of the conceptual framework posited here, see the sixteenth-century commentary Torat Mosheh to Deut. 18:1 by Moses Alshekh of Safed, especially par. " 10. '" The purpose of this particular epigram is manifestly ethical - and that is how it has quite properly been interpreted in the standard commentaries. Nevertheless, the need to acknowledge the heuristic intentions of R. Simeon cannot be transposed into an excuse for ignoring the political realities upon which his statement was based - and which probably rendered it all the more intelligible to his contemporaries.
In his view, a balanced separation of powers constituted a virtually mechanistic guarantee of constitutional freedom, and was therefore an end in itself. ") Jewish traditions and experience of government, however, suggested a different order of priorities. How governmental institutions ought to exercise power became a secondary consideration; whence they derive the authority to do so was a subject of prior importance. To put matters another way, the exponents of the Jewish political tradition (over the long haul) considered it proper to tackle the issue of the precise source of constitutional power before getting down to an examination of the appropriatefunctions of constitutional instruments.
Such, most notably, was the policy pursued by the keter torah during the 19. For which the classic source is 1 Sam. 8:11-18. Within the present context, two points are worthy of note in regard to this passage. The first is the phrase mishpat ha-melekh, which may (or may not) be a deliberate echo of Deut. 18:3 (mishpat ha-kohanim)possibly designed to contrast the two domains. The second is Samuel's own position. By virtue of his status and activities (and rather ambivalent title: ro'eh - "seer"), he may be described as a leader with a foot in both the keter torah (as a prophet) and the keter malkhut (as a military leader).