Torah For Today! This week: Harry and Meghan’s tax-funded furnishings
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Torah For Today! This week: Harry and Meghan’s tax-funded furnishings

Rabbi Zvi Solomons looks at a topical issue and delves into the Torah for an Orthodox Jewish response

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan

Jews have always had an ambivalent relationship with the ruling power.

We say a prayer for the Royal family on every Shabbat and holy day. This is in fulfilment of the saying in Pirkei Avot, that we should pray for the peace of the government of our country, for without them people would eat each other alive.

However, do we need to go any further than that?

What about funding the expensive lifestyles of everybody in the Royal family?

In recent weeks, concerns have been expressed over the refurbishment of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s residence, Frogmore Cottage, which is said to have cost taxpayers £2.4 million so far.

Are they entitled to do this? Spending all that cash when it could fund a doctor or two? Should we not be asking if this
is wasteful?

This matter is somewhat more complicated than that. In our tradition, a king is an absolute monarch.

Moses points out in parshat Korach this week that he has not abused his power by taking even a donkey from the children of Israel.

Kings are warned not to amass horses. They are, however, entitled to do some appropriation and certainly to live in some splendour – even princes live
a more lavish life.

A renovation of a cottage is therefore not an abuse. Harry and Meghan are an asset, working hard as ambassadors and bringing business to our country.

Such expenditure is merely maintenance and restoration of a building,
not a waste of money.

 

  • Zvi Solomons is rabbi of the Jewish Community of Berkshire in Reading, JCoB.org
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