a King and Other Authorities Over Jews --
Only Jews Can Be Appointed Over Jews
It is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 17:15): "Then you shall appoint
a king over you, whom the Lord your G-d will choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you, but you
shall not set over you a stranger who is not your brother." In Sifri, Shoftim, paragraph 157 it says: "Your
brother, and not from others" (that is to say, Gentiles, for a Gentile king may not be appointed over Jews -- Rabbeinu
Hillel). And not just a Gentile, but also a righteous convert, considered a Jew in every matter, is disqualified for kingship,
as is explained in Midrash HaGadol: "'You shall not set over you a stranger ' -- to exclude the convert... from
here they said it is forbidden to appoint a king from the converts, even after a number of generations, until his mother is
[one born] Jewish."
This is also the
law concerning any position of authority, as explained in Kiddushin 76b: "We have learned: 'Then you shall appoint a king over you from among your brethren,' all appointments of authority that you make should not be [made]except from among your brethren." Thus wrote Maimonides in chapter 1 of The Laws of Kings, halacha 4: "We
do not appoint a king from amongst the converts, even after several generations, until his mother is [one born] Jewish, as
it is written, 'You will not set over you a stranger who is not your brother.' Not only for kingship, but also for any
position of authority in Israel, neither a general nor chief over fifty people, nor chief over ten people, nor even a person
appointed to verify that the water is distributed to the fields. It is superfluous to talk about a judge or a nasi, who
may not be other than [one born] a Jew, as is written, 'one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you'--all
the people whom you give positions of authority shall not be from other than your brethren."
However, regarding the possibility of appointing a convert to judge over Jews, the Rishonim are in disagreement.
In the opinion of Rashi on Tractate Yevamot 102a, s.v. ger dan et chaveiro, a convert is allowed to judge a Jew on property
matters, but not concerning capital laws (see also on Kiddushin 76b, s.v. kol mesimot.) However, in the opinion of the
Rif at the end of chapter 4 of Sanhedrin, the Tosaphot on Yevamot 45b s.v.keivan and in Sanhedrin 36b s.v. chada,
the Nimukei Yosef at the beginning of chapter 12 of Yevamot, the Ran on the Rif, end of chapter 4 of Sanhedrin, and the Meiri
on Kiddushin there, a convert cannot judge a Jew, even on property matters, until his mother is [one born] Jewish. Thus Maimonides
also ruled in The Laws of Sanhedrin, chapter 2 halacha 9: "A Beit Din of three [judges], one of them being a convert,
is disqualified until his mother is [one born] Jewish." Nevertheless, a convert may judge his fellow convert, as
it is explained in Yevamot 102 and as Maimonides wrote in chapter 11, halacha 11. Also the Tur and Shulchan Aruch in Choshen
Mishpat, paragraph 7, wrote similarly.
It is appropriate to mention the words
of the Sefer HaChinuch, commandment 509 (in other editions 498) on this subject: "The root of this commandment is well
known... one appointed to authority... must be, at the very least, from the seed of Israel, for they are merciful [people]
the sons of merciful [people], in order that they have mercy on the nation and not oppress them in any matter. He must love
truth, righteousness, and integrity; as is known, anyone from the family of Abraham possess all these good qualities..."
It must be emphasized that this is an example of the distinction between one who comes
from the seed of Israel and a righteous Gentile who converts to Judaism. Even though there may not be many such examples,
this is not an exceptional case, as will be further clarified.