[First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/vezot-habrachah-long-live-the-constitution/]
Ibn Ezra Deuteronomy: Vezot Habrachah
Long Live the Constitution
“There is something behind the throne greater than the King himself.” -William Pitt The Elder Chatham
Since the beginning of civilization, kings and rulers have been a necessary part of the hierarchical and organizational food chain. Once the community, society or country reaches a certain size and sophistication, there needs to be one person taking charge of the group. For the majority of history, such a person was a King.
However, being American-born and mostly American-educated I have a special affinity and even love for the U.S. constitution. It enshrines and codifies the supremacy of principles over personalities and has mostly averted the excesses that are the norm of despots. There is something greater than the appointed ruler.
Ibn Ezra on Deuteronomy 33:5 makes a related connection. The Torah in the verse speaks of a King, but Ibn Ezra explains that it is really alluding to the Torah itself. Not only the majesty, the nobility, the grandeur, the necessity and the requirement of having, respecting and honoring the Torah, but also the supremacy that Torah should have in our lives. The Torah is the boss, the Torah is the one calling the shots. The Torah, its principles and instructions are the ones we need to follow, more so than any appointed bureaucrat or royal personality.
May we find the kingly principles of the Torah that apply to us and pay them proper homage.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
To the Torah. May we dance with it in joy (and not drunkenness…)