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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Good To Be King (Part 5: Closing Methodology)

One of the more challenging aspects of learning, is knowing when try to go further in understanding an idea and when to stop.  We want to clarify two different reasons a person stops.

1) Sometimes, the direction you desire to pursue is philosophical.  For example, why is the King only allowed to execute with a sword and nothing else?  (Is it because the sword represents conquest and warfare?  Is it because, even the judicial death by sword of beis din is only employed twice, for the murderer and idolatrous city, thereby representing an execution for the purpose of sustaining social order?  Maybe there are other possibilities.)  The desire to understand this question is part of a healthy, inquisitive mind.  However, the question by its nature, calls for a more speculative answer.  Maybe you think about it some, but ultimately, you might choose to stop and direct your thoughts to areas that lend themselves to a better grounded, more certain approach.

2) Sometimes, the area you desire to pursue is not a single point, but rather a bigger, more complex issue.  To do justice to the area, it would demand a more thorough  investigation of related facts and svaras.  For example, what is the full scope and powers granted to the King to enforce this new system of extrajudicial justice?  This question can be pursued in a well-grounded manner, but it demands a substantial dedication of your attention.  Sometime you choose to follow this desire and put in the required work, and other times you choose to stay on your current path.  In either case, you try not to speculate in an area which does lend itself to a more definitive approach.

We were satisfied by the idea that a King's powers of execution come under the system of the King's justice.  It made sense to us that the King has the authority to issue decree's in his capacity of ensuring a just, orderly society.  Authority to command is meaningless without the ability to enforce those commands through consequences. (For example, part of fearing God and accepting the sovereignty of heaven is the fear of punishment).  We recognize that this is subject to further understanding, but we chose to stop at this point. For us, the new idea was that a King's execution of an individual can be viewed as kibbush, a term normally thought of in the context of warring nations.

The complete understanding of how halacha structures the extrajudicial system of justice and the full scope and limitations of the King in this system, are valid paths of inquiry.  We hope that anyone with the desire to pursue this fascinating path, finds the previous posts helpful guides into the area.  (We suggest looking at the Rambams and sources quoted by the commentaries in the third and forth chapters of Hilchos Melachim as a next possible step).  Our path led us in a different direction (into exploring the rights of the King under the powers of war), but this is certainly a choice that is best left to one's own, subjective decision.

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