Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 14 March 2015 / 23 Adar I 5775

The Shemoneh Esrei - Eleventh Blessing: Part 2

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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“Restore our judges as in earliest times and our advisors as at first...”

One may ask: Why doesn’t the theme for this blessing follow the verse from the Torah which mentions the appointment of both judges and police officers, as is written, “Judges and officers you shall appoint in all your cities”? It is, after all, a positive command to appoint both, for without officers it is as if there are no judges, since it is the officers that enforce the laws and civil decisions of the courts and ensure that they are followed (Midrash Tanchuma and Rashi). Simply put, in today’s world, without police officers law and order would remain in the realm of theory.

To answer the above question we must clarify that the request for the return of the Sanhedrin is based on Isaiah’s prophesy regarding the final redemption: “Then I (G-d) will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as at the beginning.” (Isaiah 1:26)

In the time of the future redemption both man and his surrounding world will attain a perfected and purified state, as it is written, “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the Land (Zecharia 13:2).” In the future era the nature of people will be to follow the laws of the Torah to their fullest.

Although in the future all people will strive to follow G-d’s Will without diversion, not everyone will be expert in how to properly do so. Whether dealing with laws between man and his fellow — such as a monetary dispute between neighbors — or with laws between man and G-d, i.e. whether something is forbidden of permissible, there will be a need for the Great Sanhedrin to make legal decisions for the people. However, once those decisions will become known, the desire of all will be to comply. In the future, law and order will be the goal of all members of society. There will no longer be a need for police officers.

The Role of Advisors

In the era of the final redemption the pursuit of the entire world will be to fulfill the Divine Will. Not all people will be experts in all aspects of Torah law, and not all questions will concern purely legal matters. Questions of a more personal nature, how to better serve G-d, will be left up to spiritual advisors who are able to guide a person according to his particular needs. Hence, in the future we will only be left with the need for judges and advisors whom the people will desire to seek out in their quest for attaining higher levels of Divine service.

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