Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (14 September 2017, 23 Elul, 5777)
Is there a similar position in Judaism like the Pope of Rome?
There is no similar position to the Pope of Rome nor any central authority.
Nevertheless it works as if there was, or rather much better than if there was.
This for me is one of the proofs of Judaism as a religion sanctified by the Almighty.
The Bible says:
Deuteronomy (NASB slightly adapted by Yair) 17:
8 If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of blood or another, between one kind of decision or another, and between one kind of impurity or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 9 So you shall come to the Cohens, the Levites, and/or to the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. 10 You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the LORD chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you. 11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left.
In ancient times there existed the supreme court of seventy elders (Exodus 24:1, Numbers 11:16, 25) known as the Sanhedrin. This was the supreme decision-making body in matters of religion.
The Romans destroyed the Sanhedrin, forbade its existence, and executed its members.
The Temple was destroyed and Jews were scattered all over the earth.
Since then one has the Jewish Diaspora. Jews everywhere learn Torah. One aspect of the learning consists of intensive debate and disputation. The Jews are not a submissive race. They are disputatious and even at times quarrelsome.
"Two Jews result in three synagogues," is a popular saying among them.
The Jews have been scattered for more than two thousand years. The world has changed. It is still changing every day.
The practical application of Biblical Laws on a day to day basis is not so clear.
New questions come up all the time.
For instance, should the use of electricity be allowed on the Sabbath Day? If so, how so?
The question comes up. The Rabbis and learned Jews all over the world discuss it.
Different opinions, often contradictory to each other, are put forward.
Nevertheless, a consensus as to what should be done is reached almost immediately. Everybody, everywhere, accepts it.
The have gone to "the Cohens, the Levites, and/or to the judge who is in office in those days." They have inquired of them and the verdict in the case has been declared (Deuteronomy 17:9).
They lacked a Sanhedrin and they did not have a place to go to. They did however have "Cohens, Levis, and Judges."
A good proportion of the promulgating Rabbinical authorities are Cohens or Levis even today. This too is a statistical marvel.
The question was taken to them because that is what remains.
They make the decision and the decision is accepted all over the world without a murmur!
This happens all the time before our eyes so we take it for granted.
It is however nothing less than a miracle and a proof of Divine Providence in action!