With the current political mayhem in the US, an interesting question regarding whether a Jew is halachically permitted to accept rulership of a country other than that of Eretz Yisrael has arisen.

So for example, if Bernie Sanders does become the Democratic nominee, is he permitted halachically to accept the presidency if he wins?

On a side point, is it written or taught anywhere that a Jew will never be a king or ruler of a gentile country? I have heard this but can't confirm sources.

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    Please everyone keep your personal US politics out of this. – Double AA Mar 7 '16 at 18:29
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    "an interesting question regarding whether a Jew is halachically permitted to accept rulership of a country other than that of Eretz Yisrael": Why do you think it's interesting? Or, more precisely, why do you think it's more interesting than, for example, the question of whether a Jew is permitted to drink Pepsi on a Tuesday? Certainly the latter question affects more Jews more often. – msh210 Mar 7 '16 at 18:44
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    Of interest is the Uganda proposal (and perhaps someone has written a t'shuva or the like about that proposal that helps to answer the present question). – msh210 Mar 7 '16 at 18:47
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    How do you/we define rulership? A full king? An assistant in the cabinet (mordechai)? A congressman? – andrewmh20 Mar 8 '16 at 7:03
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    Does Prime Minister of the UK count? Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister twice in the 19th century. – RedSonja Mar 8 '16 at 13:36

Brachos 58a says that upon seeing a "melech Yisrael", one recites the blessing:

Baruch ... SheChalak MiKvodo Lirei'av.

Bless You God, who apportioned from Your honor to those who fear you!

Piskei Teshuvos Orach Chaim 224 writes that the exact same applies to an observant Jew who rules a land other than Israel.

If I recall correctly, one of the angles from which the Ran in Nedarim approaches Dina DeMalchusa Dina (Judaism's recognition of the law of the land) is that the ruler can say "keep my rules, or I'll throw you out!" He then addresses the land of Israel (in which he can't really throw you off the land), but also a Jewish ruler in France, who could.


Consider the medrash that Moshe Rabbeinu was the king of Ethiopia. If you want to say that since it was before Sinai, it would not apply, consider the Khazars where the king and nobility appear to have converted to Judaism. The child of Esther and Achashveiros was halachically Jewish.

Esther later life

She is recorded as being the Queen of Persia for years to come and the mother of the next Persian King Daryavesh, who eventually allowed the Jewish people to return to Israel and begin rebuilding the Temple and their independent lives in the Holy Land.

Munbaz was also a Jewish convert who ruled a kingdom.

King Munbaz of Adiabene, son of Queen Helena, was a convert to Judaism (and not king of Israel). The Talmud in Baba Basra (11a) tells how he gave all of his personal wealth to charity.

There is also the legend that Rabbi Shaul Wahl (c. 1542-1622) was appointed king for one day while the Polish council deliberated over which of the contenders to the throne should be appointed. The legend is that he was the only person they trusted to abdicate once a decision was made. Even if it is not true, the fact that there is such a legend means that it was halachically acceptable.

Wikipedia on Yemenite Jews says

There are also several historical works which suggest that a Jewish kingdom existed in what is now Yemen during pre-Islamic late antiquity.[27]

27 "The story of the Jews, finding the words" by Simon Schama. part two, chapter 6 "Among the believers" page 233 "By the late fourth century CE, just as life for Jews in Christendom was beginning to turn starkly harsher, Judaism made its spectacular conquest in Arabia, when the kingdom of Himyar (corresponding, territorially, to present-day Yemen, and the dominant power on the Arabian peninsula for 250 years) converted to Judaism. For a long time, it was assumed that the Himyar conversion was confined to a small circle close to the king- Tiban As'ad Abu Karib, the last of the Tubban line, - and perhaps included the warrior aristocracy. There is still a lively debate regarding the extent of Himyar Judaism; but the evidence of both inscriptions and, more significantly, excavations at the mountain of the capital of Zafar, which have uncovered what seems likely to be an ancient mikveh, suggests to many recent scholars (though not all) that the dramatic conversion was more profound, widespread and enduring.

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    "the fact that there is such a legend means that it was halachically acceptable." I don't see how that follows. Made up stories don't have to follow Halacha. – Double AA Mar 7 '16 at 20:31
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    "The child of Esther and Achashveiros was halachically Jewish." Tanakh never says such a child existed, let alone that he ruled anything. – Double AA Mar 7 '16 at 20:32
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    @DoubleAA There are references that Daryavesh who first allowed the return was the child of Acshveros and Esther. Since he was the child of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father, he was halachically Jewish. – sabbahillel Mar 7 '16 at 20:46
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    @sabbahillel See my first comment above. There is no such valid inference to draw. Side factors like that are easily ignored in story-telling. – Double AA Mar 7 '16 at 20:55
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    @sabbahillel It is to the point. Sure there could have been Jewish kings, but who said that they behaved "Jewish" – ertert3terte Mar 8 '16 at 5:21

The only Halachic case of a Jewish king ruling over a foreign country is that of the King of Israel who may CONQUER that other country in a Milchemet Reshut (a voluntary war) - in which case he rules it according to Halacha by imposing there the Bnei Noah laws (which also apply to foreigners in our land). All other Jewish rulers in foreign countries are at best, like Yossef, second to the king and appointed by him (that would be the case of a Jewish President in a foreign country because he is nominated by the inhabitants of that land and will rule them acording to their own laws). When Jews established their own independent state (some sort of autonomy) in foreign lands as it happened from time to time in history (as mentioned in this thread), it is not properly halachically speaking, a Jewish kingdom which we cannot establish a Jewish Kingdom outside of the land of Israel.

  • Hi Maimon. How do you know any of this? Please edit to clarify. We don't know you so there isn't much reason we should just trust your claims. – Double AA Sep 21 '16 at 20:14
  • How do I know? Sources: (A) רמב"ם, הלכות מלכים ומלחמות פרק ה: א-2 Rambam, Laws and Kings and Wars Chapter 5 1-2. (B) The rule of Yossef in Egypt is the prototype for Jews ruling in foreign countries by nomination of the king of that country, or as we have it today, by democratic vote of the people. (C) History (the reference to autonomy) (D) The King is not allowed to conquer foreign lands in a voluntary war until he conquered the land of Israel first in an obligatory war, and establishes his law there: "והרי היא כארץ ישראל" Rambam there, law 6. – Maimon Sep 21 '16 at 21:50
  • @Maimon please edit the answer to clarify. – msh210 Sep 21 '16 at 23:15

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