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The Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim 224:9 says that one should strive to see a king at least once in one's lifetime. To what type of "king" does this law apply to.

Does a constitutional monarch count, or only an absolute monarch. And does this apply to non-monarch heads of state such as a president of a republic or a dictator?

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Firstly the Shulchan Aruch in סימן רכד does NOT say that one should strive to see a king at least once in one's lifetime.

His exact wording is that one should strive to see kings, even non-Jewish ones:

ט מִצְוָה לְהִשְׁתַּדֵּל לִרְאוֹת (ו) מְלָכִים, אֲפִלּוּ מַלְכֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם.‏

The Be'er Heitev limits this to a single instance unless the king arrives again with more pomp & ceremony or with a bigger entourage.

As to your question, the Be'er Heitev (ibid) seems to address it:

(He starts off by saying that this only applies if the kings are traveling without their idols.)

He says that rulers who are not kings qualify for this Bracha if:

  • They do not have the yoke of monarchy above them. I.e. nobody can force them to change their edicts.
  • They judge capital offenses and execute the guilty party.

So, regarding a constitutional monarch, or an absolute monarchor a non monarch head of state such as a president of a republic or a dictator would only warrant saying the Bracha if he fulfilled both conditions.

However, continues the Be'er Heitev, ministers that the kings appoint, one should say the Bracha without Shem Umalchus (i.e. skip "Hashem, Elokainu").

One could thus say the Bracha without Shem Umalchus if one is impressed - or in awe - when seeing any display of rulership.

באר היטב (ו) מלכים. אם אינם הולכים שם עם הע''ז עי' ס''ח. השלטונין שאין עליהם עול מלך לשנות דבריהם ודן והורג במשפט מברך עליהם. ועל השרים שממנה המלך בכל עיר ועיר טוב לברך בלא שם ומלכות כנה''ג בשם הרדב''ז ומ''א. אם רואה פעם אחת המלך אל יבטל יותר מלימודו לראותו אם לא שבא בחיל יותר ובכבוד גדול יותר ס''ח מ''א. ברמב''ם ספ''ג דאבל כתב שמותר לטמא בטומאה של דבריהם מפני כבוד מלכים או מפני כבוד הבריות כגון לנחם אבל עיין מ''א:‏

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    How do you know the rule of when to say the blessing is the same as the rule of when to run to see them? – Double AA Sep 10 '17 at 14:00

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