April 2, 1990 | Stuart A. Cohen
This article comprises an annotated translation of a responsum (Orah Hayyim, No. 12) by R. Moses Sofer (the "rlatam Sofer"; 1762-1839). The is sue addressed is one central to all political discourse? legitimate succession to public office. Particularly noteworthy, however, is Sofer's analysis of this question by explicit reference to the differences between the characters of office in the three governmental demesnes known to Jewish tradition as "ketarim."
The very existence of a Jewish political tradition has gone virtually unrecognized in our own time, despite the Jewish national revival of the twentieth century. To correct this situation, a widening group of scholars has initiated a systematic effort to recover the several dimensions of the Jewish political tradition, seeking to build a comprehensive and fully integrated program in the teaching of this tradition and its contemporary uses. The subject matter of Jewish political studies falls into three major divisions: Jewish political institutions and behavior, Jewish political thought, and Jewish public affairs, which in turn include numerous subdivisions. The four primary tasks that should occupy scholars in the field include investigation, interpretation, presentation, and policy application. This article focuses on the first two tasks, outlining what has been done and what still needs to be done.