Judge and King define in a fundamental way two extreme states of the human condition. Judge has no free-will of its own. All Judge does is comparing its experience (internal and external) to pre-specified standards in order to determine appropriate punishment, based on observed degree-of-compliance; King is free-will bound by no law and nobody, accountable to none.
Judge, devoid of free will, believes that source of morality is exclusively external, originating in the Divine (or any recognized/adopted historic authority). Individual human intelligence, wisdom and experience have no part in formulating precepts of morality. King, devoid of faith in any external authority that would limit its liberty, believes that the sole source of morality is humankind, more specifically, human beings exercising their free-will, their wisdom and good judgment.
Judge imposes structure, defines “identity”; King strives to express its will within the confines of that identity.
Human history is permeated by constant struggle between the two extreme states.
Examples for “Judge” are “ideologies” that have attempted, throughout history, to repress free-will of individuals and nations and subjugate them to the “ideology”. Examples:
- Religions’ regimes, imposed by ruling establishments like the inquisition in Spain of the Middle-Ages;
- Twentieth-century political ideologies that sought no compromise with individual freedoms, like Communism and Nazism;
- Present-day extreme forms of Islam (“Submission” in Arabic).
Example for “King” is present-day Liberal Democracies of Western Civilization, holding dear that one is free to do whatever one’s heart desires (“King”) so long as it harms none (a little taste of “Judge”).
The struggle between “Judge” and “King” permeates every aspect of our lives:
- We experience the restrictive “Law-of-Nature” (“Judge”), which punishes for violations; But we also experience randomness (source for “King”), where we may exercise unhindered our free-will ;
- We experience the restrictive state’s regulations and laws (“Judge”); But we also experience (in democracies) areas where state law does not apply so that “King” can reign supreme;
- From within we are both a “Judge”, judging ourselves and others according to a set of standards that we pursue (partly unconsciously); But we are also “King”, expressing our own free-will and desires, occasionally allowing others exercise the same..
The Torah is well aware that “Judge” and “King” need to co-exist so that they accommodate one another to bring about a blessed compromise. Being well aware that leaving any out would result in catastrophic extremism, the Torah specifies in painstaking detail the system-of-law, judges and officers, that the Children of Israel should have but hurriedly specifies, in a balancing act, that a king is also needed:
“Judges and officers shall thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God gives thee throughout thy tribes; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment..” (Deuteronomy 16:18);
and immediately thereafter (Deuteronomy 17:15):
“..thou may appoint a king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose..”.
“Judge” and “King”— “Submission” vs. “Liberty”; “Nature” vs. “Randomness”; “Law” vs. “Free-will”
The struggle between “Judge” and “King” has reached mammoth proportions in recent decades, resulting in ISIS (the “Judge”), on the one hand, and projection of the rainbow colors onto the While House (the “King”), on the other hand.
Will 3rd World War be waged between the ultimate “Judge” and the ultimate “King”??
- An excellent talk (in Hebrew) about the distinction between “Judge” and “King” and its implications and ramifications is Rabbi Haim Dynovisz (רב חיים דינוביץ):