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Tisha B’Av- how can I want monarchy/theocracy/sacrifices?!


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 16, 5774
Every year at this time we are exhorted to think seriously about the churban, - and I have. So, now the question(s). What to do? Given the Rabbinical exposition on what a rebuilt BH"M/ Messianic era would entail 1. Why would I pray for the establishment of a theocracy? 2. Why would I want to work towards a reestablished monarchy? Ex post facto romanticisations aside, it was always a mess - even with God choosing the kings. And in any case, I prefer (correctly!) being a citizen to a subject. I would never submit to any king, no matter how wise, on principle. One can mourn any tragedy - but to mourn the demise of an autocracy? 3. Apologetics aside, how shall I mourn the ending of the "sacrificial cult"; knowing how Nach, Machzor, and Gemara describe the reality of the Beit HaMikdash? Animals screaming, blood scattering, dung burning, corruption, infighting, elitism, priests supported on the public dole? (Bayit Rishon as well, even when God was "there".) Could I really want this back - in good conscience? I take Klal Yisrael, Am Yisrael, and Torah seriously - but how can I take Tisha Be’Av seriously?
Shalom- Firstly, may I respect your candidness in wanting to preform mitzvot with total honesty and identification! It’s true that many of the things which we mourned in the past, thank G-d, no longer apply since the founding of the modern State of Israel, the in-gathering of the exiles, etc. Nevertheless, I don’t know anyone who thinks that Israel has solved all of our problems (just read any newspaper!). We still have plenty to mourn and pray for, including the lack of direct connection with G-d. I personally am also against monarchy and human theocracy! But the Torah ideal is not a monarchy, for the Sanhedrin has the power of decision and veto regarding most issues. In the olden days, when absolute monarchy was accepted, there was often struggle between the king (who wanted absolute power) and the Sanhedrin, something which thank G-d, wouldn’t be accepted today (as you eloquently expressed!). In addition, the main role of the Sanhedrin, those 71 super-geniuses, successful educators and tzadikim, is to make Torah not only “palatable” but appealing and relevant to every generation, and they will have extreme power to make even far-reaching decisions and changes to fulfill their function. Furthermore, no king is acceptable unless the nation of Israel chooses him. Moreover, the saintly Netziv explains that if the people prefer a democracy and not a king, than that’s what the Torah prefers in that generation (Ha’Amek Davar, Dvarim 17, 14). Similarly, the religiosity of the Jewish State will be to the extent of the desire of the people, and not a forced theocracy or monarchy. Regarding animal sacrifices, the famed Rav Kook writes several different approaches theoretically justifying abolishing animal sacrifices (having only incense and vegetarian ones in the Third Temple), should that be the desire of the nation (see Nevertheless, we don’t have the Sanhedrin yet to make any significant changes in the prayer-book, and we know very well from history that to start making changes (=reforms) without the proper halachic apparatus will quickly lead to “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”. In short, Mashiach is not going to change any laws of nature and is definitely not going to do anything the people don’t want! Don’t worry; a loving Father doesn’t go too fast for His children.
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