by Rabbi Ariel Abel
Last month the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, stood silently through the National Anthem and refused to sing during a Battle of Britain memorial service. What’s the Torah view of this behaviour?
When the Kings of Judea and Israel were anointed, the people shouted: “Long Live the King”. According to Jewish law, it is not sufficient to stand in honour of the regent; one must also utter a blessing.
The extent to which some Biblical characters went to bless their royalty with long life is surprising. Bathsheba, the beloved wife of David, declared: May my master King David live forever.
This is clearly a formality, as her personal relationship did not require such a superlative. If the king has the power of inflicting or awarding reprieve from death penalty, it is obligatory to recite a blessing in recognition of their God-like power as an inspiration to us to appreciate God as the true judge of all life. Jeremiah insists that we seek the peace of the city in which we live.
Our sages reflected this in teaching that we recite prayers in the synagogue for the government of the day, for if not “each one would swallow up his neighbour”
. Law and order is the antidote to anarchical chaos and it is a blessing that we live in a country which insists upon the law being kept.
The Jewish view is that we must ask God to bless this reality. Beyond the safety and security which a strong government provides, the excellent moral virtue which the Queen displays by example is both spiritually and socially a very important anchor for the citizens of this country. Leadership is decisive in determining how people behave.
Therefore, it is not only the power over a citizen’s life which ought to deserve a blessing; strong moral leadership is a life-giver to society and the Queen should be hailed by all and blessed with a long and healthy life.
The elected officials of the people are arguably more culpable than most if they remain silent when all that is being wished for the Queen of this country is a long and good life.
The Queen is no parasite; she is a hardworking public servant at an age Mr Corbyn should be glad to reach.
It is not the loyalty to the Queen which is in question; rather, it is the Queen’s loyalty to us all which Mr Corbyn has questioned.