February 24, 2005
In compliance with the exacting description by 12th-century Torah scholar Maimonides in the Mishna Torah, steps have been taken in Israel to convene a historic legal body, dormant for 1,600 years.
The rabbis were asked to prepare topics they thought the Sanhedrin should deal with:
* uniform kashrut [dietary kosher] certification;
* the precise length of the biblical cubit (with ramifications on many issues, including [the size of Noah's Ark and] the location of the altar on the Temple Mount);
* assisting Anousim from Spain and Portugal and others whose ancestors were forced to convert;
* lost Jewish tribes from other parts of the world
* unifying Sephardic and Ashkenazi practices on issues such as prayer liturgy, kitniyot (legumes) on Passover, and glass utensils;
* the Sanhedrin's decision-making procedures;
* foreign workers;
* unifying the religious parties;
* restoring the Davidic monarchy;
* an ethical code for Israel's army (as opposed to the present one, which is based largely on secular sources);
* the establishment of regional "small Sanhedrins;"
* the long-missing "t'chelet" blue color;
* sending delegations around the country to hear people's concerns,
and much more.
A Talmudic tradition* states that Elijah the Prophet will present himself before a duly-ordained Sanhedrin when he announces the coming of the Messiah.
*Eruvin 43b; Maharatz Chajas ad loc; Rashash to Sanhedrin 13b.
Boruch Nachson is a Chassidic artist living in Chevron, Israel. Detail, Jerusalem in its Glory, Acrylic on canvas.