In Deuteronomy/Devorim 17:14, and 17:18-20 we see that a king of Israel is required to write a copy of the Torah to read and keep with him always.

Would a convert to Judaism, who is a king of another nation (i.e. not Israel/Judah), be required to follow this mitzvah? Would it make a difference if the majority of the citizens of his nation were Jewish, and/or if he felt the land he ruled was given to him by G-d (Devorim 17:14)? (I'm asking specifically about a situation with a convert because I'm unaware of royal families with Jewish lineage in the modern day.)

I am assuming this is a separate issue from the other similar mitzvah (Deut/Devorim 31:19), as several people seem to comment that a Jewish king of Israel would need two Torahs, and thus a convert King would at least need one copy. For example, see below.

"The Gemorah (Sanhedrin 21b) relates that the king, in fact, maintained two Sifrei Torah. One was carried with him at all times, and the other was stored in his treasure room. The Rambam notes that if the king inherited one Sefer, he would write the second one on his own. If, however, he did not own a Sefer Torah, he would be obligated to write two sefarim." http://www.torah.org/advanced/torah-thoughts/5767/shoftim.html

Would it be acceptable/preferable for the king in the example above to keep his personal (Deut/Devorim 31:19) copy of the Torah in a synagogue, rather than a treasure room?

Please note that I can't read Hebrew or Yiddish.

  • AFAIK "a Jewish convert who is a king of another nation" is not allowed in Halacha (Jewish Law), so this is a peculiar question. "Somebody who rules against Halacha, should he follow Halacha." Sep 7, 2015 at 11:46
  • 2
    Danny, are Jews not allowed under Halacha to rule countries other than Israel/Judah? Do you have a source for this - I'm unaware of this ruling? I'm only aware of commentary about how the ruler of Israel must be a Jew (and "not a stranger" so possibly this rules out converts?) Sep 8, 2015 at 1:23
  • 1
    Interesting to review the story of King Joseph of the Khazars c. 800's. :) Sep 18, 2015 at 1:44
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/45589/759
    – Double AA
    Dec 3, 2015 at 6:23
  • 1
    Also the pm of Ukraine May 20, 2016 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


A King of Jewish people only has the Halachic status of being a King when in Israel Deuteronomy 17,14

When you come to the land (of Israel) which Hashem your G-d gives you and you Dwell in it, you say "let us appoint a King"

The Gemora Sanhedrin 20b quoted by Rambam Hilchos Melachim 1,1 says that appointing a King is one of the 3 commandments of entering the land of Israel.

As you mentioned converts, I will assume the question is also about a King appointed by Lets say the Roman Emperor in the time of the Beth Hamikdash to Rule over the Land of Israel among other lands. The answer applies whether the chosen King converts to Judaism or not.

The Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos Lav 362 and Sefer Hachinuch quoting the Sifri say that a Ger cannot become a king over Israel at all so if he forces himself to become King refuse to accept him.

הזהירנו שלא למנות עלינו מלך איש שלא יהיה מזרע ישראל, אף על פי שיהיה גר צדק. והוא אמרו לא תוכל לתת עליך איש נכרי אשר לא מאחיך הוא. ולשון ספרי (דברים יז טו) לא תוכל לתת עליך איש נכרי זו מצות לא תעשה. וכן שאר המנויין אינו מותר שנמנה עלינו בענין מהענינים, לא מנוי תורה ולא מנוי מלכות, איש שיהיה מקהל גרים עד שתהיה אמו מישראל. באמרו שום תשים עליך מלך מקרב אחיך תשים עליך, אמרו (קדושין ע"ו:) כל משימות שאתה משים, לא יהיו אלא מקרב אחיך.

There is one Occasion mentioned Bava Bastra 3b where an Eved (non Jewish decent but he was obligated to do Mitzvos) called Hurdos (Herod) took the mantle of Kingship by force, the Rabbis refused to accept him so he just killed them all

הורדוס עבדא דבית חשמונאי הוה... אמר מאן דריש מקרב אחיך תשים עליך מלך רבנן קם קטלינהו לכולהו רבנן

Therefore a Ger who wants to to become King and write the Torah should read it first till he gets to Devarim 17,15 מקרב אחיך תשים עליךמלך- "From your Brothers (i.e not converts) you shall anoint a King," then he should abdicate rather than carry it round with him as if he's King when he is really just a sinner.

The Gemora in Temura 4b clearly states that Rovo (who the Halacha follows when arguing with Abayei) said if one transgresses a commandment (there are other exceptions see there) it doesn't work so this Ger isn't even a King so does not keep any laws pertaining to a King as is evident above from the Rabbis not accepting Herod at all:

כל מילתא דאמר רחמנא לא תעבידרבא אמר לא מהני

  • What if he was a king over a nation entirely consisting of converts? All you've done is unconvincingly avoided the question
    – Double AA
    Jan 25, 2019 at 7:46
  • "so if he forces himself to become King refuse to accept him" the Rambam doesn't say that
    – Double AA
    Jan 25, 2019 at 7:48
  • The fact is the Tanakh clearly says a woman who seizes power is Queen.
    – Double AA
    Jan 25, 2019 at 7:49
  • 1
    The queen Atalia got beheaded Melochim 2 2,11 By Yehoyada the Cohein Gadol's men for this very reason that she wasn't fit to be king (anyway woman are Patur for Mitzvos Asei SHehazman Gorma Kiddushin 29a) ויצו יהוידע הכהן את שרי המיאות [המאות] פקדי החיל ויאמר אליהם הוציאו אתה אל מבית לשדרת והבא אחריה המת בחרב כי אמר הכהן אל **תומת בית יהוה טז וישמו לה ידים ותבוא דרך מבוא הסוסים בית המלך **ותומת שם
    – user15464
    Jan 25, 2019 at 8:59
  • That's wonderful but not relevant. Until beheaded she still needed to write a Torah. I don't know if she managed to finish in time.
    – Double AA
    Jan 25, 2019 at 9:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .