Following the negotiations on the composition of Israel’s new government after the latest general election, the question of Israel’s constitution came up again. Despite having a vibrant democratic regime, where even anti-Zionist parties participate in the election and even in the government, Israel has never managed to agree on a constitution and has remained without one since its establishment on May 14, 1948.
This would not be such a problem were it not for the fact that over the past several years, affairs that undermine the trust of Israelis in the country’s justice system have emerged. The problem is particularly acute when it comes to debates over the authority of the government to legislate vs. the authority of the Supreme Court to revoke laws it deems unjust or unconstitutional.
Some of the ideas concerning Israel’s constitution came from other countries, such as the UK, Germany, the US, and Canada. However, something about those foreign ideas has always felt amiss. As a result, none has been adopted.
I believe there is a good reason we did not embrace any of the Western constitutions. The State of Israel is a Jewish state, and the Jews have had a constitution since their first day as a nation. In fact, only once they accepted the constitution were they declared a nation. If we adopt it now, we will immediately regain our stability and peace.
The ancient Israeli society was based on solidarity, mutual responsibility, and giving to the poor, all of which resulted from caring for others. The motto of Israel’s constitution, and indeed its system of laws, was “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Israel’s authentic constitution was not meant to organize people’s present lives. Rather, it was meant to change people’s nature from self-serving to considerate and caring, and lead them to the very purpose of their lives, namely to love others as themselves.
Ancient Hebrews were taught to live not by laws that follow humans’ ideas, but laws that derive from the most fundamental laws of existence—the laws of giving and receiving, and the ways by which they interact. Since other nations did not formulate their constitutions accordingly, Israel’s governments since its inception instinctively felt that something was not quite right in the proposed constitutions. However, because we have already lost the ability to love others, and did not know its critical importance to our people, leaders felt that no constitution was the right one, although they could not articulate it or explain what was the right constitution for Israel.
In order for Israel to rebuild its society and establish peace within its borders and with its neighbors, Israel must return to its roots. We must remind ourselves of the sublime goal of our people—to bring unity and solidarity to the world through our example—and work on ourselves until we become that model.
Just as during the “inauguration ceremony” at the foot of Mt. Sinai, when we received the Law and committed to obeying it, the people of Israel must first adopt their original constitution—the commitment to love others—and then we will be able to draft a proper constitution. If we reverse the order and draft a constitution before we have committed ourselves to caring for each other, the ego will take over and we will become a tyranny.
If we want to thrive in a free land of free people, we must strive toward one and only goal: to care for others no less than we care for ourselves.