There is a concept that rulers do not have free will concerning public affairs, based on the verse in Mishlei 21:1 'לב מלך ביד ה, the heart of a king is in the hand of Hashem (See commentary of the Malbim ibid).

Does this apply to many modern day head of state, who have checks and balances and non-absolute power? Would it apply to congress, where a group of people are making decisions together?

  • @BabySeal I was a math major, but that was a long time ago :). I'm assuming you just mean to say it's a sliding scale, although I think you have your x's and y's mixed up. – Y     e     z May 4 '14 at 18:41
  • f should be rational. Basically power = 1/selfcontrol, or vice versa if you like. – Baby Seal May 4 '14 at 19:18
  • @BabySeal I assume we can agree his lack of bechira is a result of his power and not the other way around. (And the deletion of your first comment makes this conversation somewhat unintelligible now.) – Y     e     z May 4 '14 at 20:25
  • it depends on your perspective. – Baby Seal May 4 '14 at 22:18

Let's talk about a related topic: the blessing on seeing a king. As you may know, there's a halacha that says that one must recite a blessing on seeing a gentile king. Naturally, the question then arises as to what, specifically, a gentile king is. There's a decent summary of this here: http://www.ravaviner.com/2013/03/reciting-blessing-on-seeing-president.html (only read to the paragraph starting with "The Satmar Rebbe," the rest is some political thing) but for the sake of avoiding future link rot I might as well retype the salient points, which also appear near this blessing in the ArtScroll siddur.

  1. The monarch must have absolute authority. It's not clear to me if this applies only to actual authority, as in the king of Saudi Arabia, although I don't think any observant Jews ever see him, or also to theoretical authority, as with the king of Britain.

  2. The monarch must be able to exercise capital punishment. I assume that this means that an absolute ruler of a country that doesn't have capital punishment wouldn't qualify as a "king."

  3. The king must have some kind of distinctive garment.

  4. The king must have an entourage. Is one person enough?

So, in other words, we don't call most modern-day rulers "kings." If we don't call them "kings," does this concept still apply?

  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! That is a halacha which is based in the awe inspired by the king. My question is about the sway that he holds in world affairs. – Y     e     z Mar 5 '14 at 19:07
  • Don't you mean "Queen of Britain"? – PixelArtDragon Jun 3 '14 at 13:32

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