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Daily Mitzvah (Rambam)

Day 336: Positive Commandment 173; Negative Commandment 362, 364, 363, 365

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Positive Commandment 173 (Digest)
Crowning a King

"Appoint a king upon yourselves"Deuteronomy 17:15.

We are commanded to appoint a king, who will unite and rule over our nation. This is one of the three mitzvot the Jews were commanded upon entering the Land—the other two were building the Holy Temple and eradicating Amalek.

The king whom we appoint must command our awe. We must have the ultimate respect, reverence and estimation for the monarch—greater even than that we have for prophets. Any decree that the king issues must be obeyed—provided that it doesn't countermand a Torah law. And the Torah-sanctioned king has the right to have executed anyone who disregards his orders.

Negative Commandment 362 (Digest)
Appointing a Foreigner as a King

"You may not set a stranger over you who is not your brother"Deuteronomy 17:15.

We are forbidden to appoint a king who is not from Jewish ancestry, even if he is a righteous convert. To be eligible for the position, the individual must have been born to a Jewish mother.

The same is true with regards to all appointments – whether governmental or Torah-related – only one with Jewish ancestry may be appointed.

This all applied until King David became king. From that point and onwards, only a descendant of King David (specifically through his son Solomon) is eligible to be king. Anyone other than a descendant of David is considered a "stranger" with regards to kingship, as is anyone not of Aaron's seed with relation to priesthood.

Negative Commandment 364 (Digest)
A King Marrying Multiple Wives

"Neither shall he have many wives"Deuteronomy 17:17.

A king may not marry a multitude of wives. The maximum allowable is eighteen wives.

Negative Commandment 363 (Digest)
A King Accumulating Many Horses

"But he shall not accumulate many horses"Deuteronomy 17:16.

A king may not accumulate many horses. He may have one horse to ride upon, and for military purposes as many as necessary in his royal stables. But his entourage may not include even one extra horse running before him.

Negative Commandment 365 (Digest)
A King Amassing Personal Wealth

"Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold"Deuteronomy 17:17.

A king may not amass personal wealth. He may keep in his personal treasury funds sufficient to pay his servants' and soldiers' wages—but no more than that. And for communal purposes, he may collect as much as he wishes.

The reason for these prohibitions – against accumulating wives, horses and money – is explicitly stated in the Torah: "He may not acquire many horses for himself, so that he will not bring the people back to Egypt in order to acquire many horses... He shall not take many wives for himself, so that his heart shall not turn away [from G‑d], and he shall not acquire much silver and gold for himself."

Because the reasons for these mitzvot are known, many decided to disregard them [claiming that the reasons do not apply to them]—even Solomon, despite his incredible wisdom and knowledge, and despite the fact that he was dubbed "a friend of G‑d" [fell into this trap].

This is a valuable lesson for us all. Were we to know the reasons behind all the mitzvot, we would find reasons to abolish them all. If Solomon made this mistake, certainly the weak-minded general public would the same, saying, "G‑d only commanded us to do this, and forbade us from doing that, because of such and such. We will be meticulous regarding the reason why the mitzvah was given—but will disregard the mitzvah itself." And the entire religion would thus be lost.

Therefore G‑d concealed the reasons behind [many of] the mitzvot, and most of the reasons are beyond the comprehension of the general population.

But there is not one that doesn't have logic and reason. They are all, as the prophet testifies, "the statutes of G‑d are upright; they make the heart rejoice."

And I beseech G‑d for assistance in observing all that He commanded, and distancing all that He forbade.

And this is what we wished to include in this work.

Translator's Note: This is the final mitzvah in the Sefer Hamitzvot.

Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
Just as wisdom is not something you can feel with your hands, so G-dliness is not something you can grasp with your mind
  –Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
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