Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there a movement to re-establish the Sanhedrin?
- The primary reason why the Sanhedrin is being re-established is because it is required by Jewish Law, and there is no political, social or religious obstacle to re-establishing it at this time.
- In some ways it is a direct reaction to the perceived secularization of the Jewish State, or at least the apparent importing of principles of governance that are foreign to Judaism, and are thought by many to oppose Judaism's world view and native culture.
- Jewish Law was originally designed to encompass every aspect of running a nation. Jewish jurisprudence had significant influence on the formation of Western governments. There are Rabbis who are involved with the Sanhedrin in order to have the opportunity to inject new life into and broaden the application of what has become largely theoretical constructs.
- Jewish Unity: One possible result of the above point is that if Judaism, Jewish Law and Jewish perspectives on law and culture could be broadened to include social welfare, social causes, art, music, and other aspects of culture that currently may not be viewed as "religious" concerns, then it is possible that rifts between unaffiliated, Reform, Conservative, Traditional and Orthodox may begin to be bridged. The establishment of a Sanhedrin court makes discussion and resolution of issues much easier, and opens up many exciting possibilities.
- Peace in the Middle East: Jewish Law provides a wide variety of views on the relations between Jews and non-Jews. It is possible that by exploring these traditional views, some of which differ significantly from what has been referred to as "Zionism", new approaches to the Arab-Israeli can be attempted.
The effort to re-establish the Sanhedrin reflects an attempt to revive a culture and method of governance. It is an effort to turn a theoretical construct into a modern, functioning legislature.
Is your Sanhedrin the official one that Jews generally recognize?
The nascent Sanhedrin is still in formation. It has been out of existence for 1600 years, and there are many issues that still must be worked out.
Who is the highest ranking Rabbi in Israel? And is he part of your organization?
There are several. Each community has its own highest ranking halachic authority. None of these are yet members of the Sanhedrin.
The organizers of the nascent Sanhedrin sought out and received advice and guidance from the spiritual leaders of our generation in various aspects of forming the current "placeholder" Sanhedrin. Current members of the nascent Sanhedrin continue to seek out the legal advice from greatest halachic leaders in Israel before making decisions. Many have answered questions, given guidance and lent their support to organization. In general they have adopted a "wait and see" attitude to see how the effort develops over time before they are willing to become members of the court.
Are there 71 or 72 members in the Sanhedrin?
Exodus 24:1,9; Numbers 11:16,24-25 says that 70 elders we gathered with Moses. That makes 71. Ptolemy Philadelphus requested that Jerusalem send 72 elders, six from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, to translate the Bible to Greek. This Greek "Sanhedrin" may have been meant to supersede the 71, but it was never recognized by Jewish law. In general Rabbinical writings state there were 71 members of the Sanhedrin. Greek sources say there were 72.
What is required before Animal Sacrifices are resumed? Do you expect this anytime soon?
According to Jewish Law, there are various requirements before animal sacrifices can be performed as required by Scripture. For the Passover sacrifice, knowledge of the location of the Altar, a Priest of documented lineage, and permission to perform sacrifices from the authorities (it is not permitted to perform sacrifices by force) are required. After much research over the last twenty years, the first two issues have been satisfactory resolved. To perform the Passover Sacrifice it is not necessary to build a Temple structure or enter any Islamic mosque, and only takes a few minutes, so it is conceivable that permission to perform sacrifices could be granted by the government authorities. For various political reasons concerning sovereignty of Temple Mount there are arguments within the government both for and against allowing scriptural sacrifices. Depending on events in world politics, it is possible that permission could be granted at a moments notice.
What makes this attempt different?
Q. There have been earlier, unsuccessful attempts to revive the Sanhedrin. What makes this attempt different?
A. This is the first attempt to reestablish the Sanhedrin in the Land of Israel at a time when the people of Israel represent the majority of the inhabitants... Today Israel is the center of Jewish life. Thus it has now become a duty for the Jews in the Holy Land to try to establish a Sanhedrin.
Does the "new" Sanhedrin see itself as official?
Q. But even this "new" Sanhedrin did not at first see itself as official. Is this still the case?
A. Yes. To be "official" the basic requirement from a practical standpoint is that the top level of talmidei hachamim [Talmud scholars] either be part of the Sanhedrin or recognize it.
Is a certain level of ruah hakodesh required?
Q. Is a certain level of ruah hakodesh (divine inspiration) in at least one member necessary, as in the times of the original Sanhedrin?
A. Maimonides does not list ruah hakodesh as a definite prerequisite.
What relationship between the Sanhedrin and the gentile world?
Q. What relationship is envisioned between the Sanhedrin and the gentile world in general? With the Bnei Noah in particular?==
A. It is our duty to strive to bring the Torah to all the nations. This is indicated in many places... The nations are already coming to learn, as we see by the developing Bnei Noah movement - those wonderful non-Jews who have taken upon themselves to observe the Seven Noahide Laws [sometimes called "The Noahide Covenant" or more figuratively "The Rainbow Covenant"]. Many Bnei Noah also take on additional commandments. There is a thirst for the word of the almighty, and it is our duty to meet this need. This Word was especially given at Sinai to Israel, whose role is to be "a kingdom of kohanim [priests] and a holy nation" [Exodus 19:6] which means, among other duties, that it is the duty of the Jews to teach the nations, just as it is one of the duties of the kohanim to teach the Jews, as Malachi says: "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts" [Malachi 2:7]. Bnei Noah join the Jews in observing Psalm 105:1: "O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name; make known His doings among the peoples."
What changes would the Sanhedrin be looking to encourage?
Q. What changes would the Sanhedrin be looking to encourage in such things as Christian and Islamic belief and practice?
A. We would try to encourage the acceptance of the message the Almighty sent to mankind at Sinai through the Jewish people, and the understanding that the Almighty has never revoked this message.... [which has been] misunderstood or intentionally distorted by the spokesmen of Islam and Christianity. This misunderstanding must be rectified, the distortions recognized, the true message learned and heeded.
And would the Sanhedrin permit or encourage such people if they wanted to live in Israel?
There are many other conditions necessary for living in the Holy Land. If and when met, yes, it would be permissible for a non-Jew to settle.
What of the Hindu pantheon?
The common understanding is that the Hindu pantheon reflects a religion which is not monotheistic. As such, believers in this pantheon are not Bnei Noah.
We are looking forward to a working relationship with these organizations. The motto of the UN is "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." This motto is part of verse 4 in Isaiah chapter 2; it would be proper to consider the whole verse: "And it shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established at the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall stream unto it. And many nations shall come and say: 'O come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;' and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." It is our firm belief that the vision of verse 4 will become a reality only after the world accepts and internalizes the message indicated in verse 3.
Clearly, selecting, training and empowering the worldwide courts and court officials envisioned by the Seven Noahide Laws will be a massive undertaking. What is this going to cost, and how long is it expected to take?
We have not put together an "executive summary." The answer depends on many factors. The first and foremost factor is understanding; people must understand that the world is in a very dangerous situation. There is a serious threat of nuclear war. There is a serious threat of moral disintegration. We are being taught that there is no absolute morality, no real "right" and "wrong," only subjective "narratives." When the gravity of the situation is finally recognized, the means will be found.
What would be the involvement of already-extant rabbinical courts in this process?
One of the Noahide commandments is to set up a social system with a legal framework, including courts. The function of the Jews is to teach and advise, to help the nations do this, mainly by themselves.
Would already Bible-believing, Israel-supporting Christian evangelical groups (and/or existing international legal-ethical bodies) be permitted, expected or encouraged to help bring this about?
Yes, when they have accepted the Noahide covenant.
Would actual Sanhedrin membership be strictly limited to Jews?
The Sanhedrin is a Jewish institution which mainly deals with Judaism, but it also has a function regarding non-Jews - to facilitate the spread of the Torah. In this regard we hope for the partnership of leaders from every nation. Each nation can decide how to handle its own affairs.
When the nations understand the function of Israel and the role of the Torah, so will all the Jews understand their obligations to the whole world, and this will unite the people of Israel.
The prophecy is that the world's nations will one day look to Jerusalem (and the Sanhedrin) for guidance. Do you see forces at work today that will help bring such universal admiration?
Yes, we do: in the return to Torah by the Bnei Noah, which reflects a longing for the authentic call of the Almighty. This call has to be the basis of action. We are determined to do our part in this cosmic undertaking by preparing suitable people.
As you probably know, the very idea of reconstituting the Sanhedrin is being met with a mixture of hostility, ridicule and indifference by both Jews and gentiles. Is more than education required?
Certainly any means for bringing people closer to their covenant with the Almighty is of great importance. Education is the first and most important step. But education without action is not enough. Proper education brings action. We attempt to use any vehicle that will help bring people closer to truth.
How can I get involved?
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