Evil Judges and Mashiah
This Shabbat, we will read פרשת שופטים.
Rav Ovadia has called the Israeli Supreme Court judges "Kofrim" and lambasted them for the harsh sentence to Shlomo Benizri. (See video here.) I don't know enough about the case, but if Rav Ovadia - himself, a Dayan of the highest order and intimately involved in the case - lambastes the judges, that tells you something about the Israeli legal system.
The gemara in Sanhedrin 98a says:
אמר רבי שמלאי משום רבי אלעזר בר"ש אין בן דוד בא עד שיכלו כל שופטים ושוטרים מישראל שנאמר (ישעיהו א) ואשיבה ידי עליך ואצרוף כבור סיגיך וגו' ואשיבה שופטיךSaid R' Simla'i in the name of Ribbi Elazar ben Ribbi Shimon: The son of David will not come until all the judges and officers from Israel will be destroyed, as it says (Yeshaya 1) And I will turn My hand upon thee, and purge away thy dross as with lye...And I will restore thy judges
A variation of this gemara appears in Shabbat 139a, which says:
ואין הקב"ה משרה שכינתו על ישראל עד שיכלו שופטים ושוטרים רעים מישראל שנאמר (ישעיהו א) ואשיבה ידי עליך ואצרוף כבור סגיך ואסירה כל בדיליך ואשיבה שופטיך כבראשונה ויועציך כבתחלה וגוAnd the Holy One, blessed be He, does not cause His Shechina to dwell over Israel until the evil judges and officers will be destroyed from Israel, as it says (Yeshaya 1) And I will turn My hand upon thee, and purge away thy dross as with lye, and will take away all thine alloy; And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; etc.
This isn't the first time Rav Ovadia has lambasted Israeli judges either. I found another Ynet article from 2002 where Rav Ovadia quotes this very gemara, while dealing with a case where judges ruled in favor of the Reform Movement.
עוד תנאי שצריך להתמלא בטרם יבוא משיח בן דוד, על פי הרב עובדיה, הוא ששופטי ישראל יעברו מהעולם. הוא ציטט: "אין בן דוד בא עד שיכלו כל השופטים והשוטרים הרשעים שבישראל", והסביר: "שופטים רשעים דנים נגד התורה, נותנים חסות לרפורמים - זה בדיוק אלה. עד שיכלו השופטים הרשעים שבישראל, אחר כך יבוא בן דוד. משיח מחכה, עומד ליד השער, מחכה לנו".
As an aside, that article quotes a cute anecdote from Rav Ovadia that explains why Mashiah's arrival cannot be sudden. I'll translate it:
A poor American Jew bought a lottery ticket, and went and told his wife, "Today, I bought a lottery ticket." She told him, "Leave the ticket here with me in the house." After the lottery was drawn, it became clear to the wife that he won $10 million. She became very overjoyed, but she knows that her husband is very emotionally sensitive. She was afraid that if he knew that he won, he would die from shock. So, she asked her psychologist neighbor to tell her husband the news little by little.
He told her "How much will you pay me?" They agreed on $50.
Her husband came home, and she told him that the psychologist wants to speak with you. He went to him, and here is their conversation:
"Tell me, did you buy a lottery ticket?"
"If your lottery ticket won $1000, what would you do?"
"I'd buy a nice suit, shoes, hat."
"And if it were $5000?"
"I'd buy also for my wife and children."
"And if $50,000?"
"I'll tell you the truth - I work as a peddler on the street - I need to buy a small store."
"And if $100,000?"
"A bigger store."
"And if $1,000,000?"
"I'll branch out - one in New York, one in New Jersey, one in Brooklyn."
"And if $5,000,000?"
"I'll make another branch in Los Angeles."
"And if it were $10,000,000?"
He told the psychologist: "I swear that if it were $10 million, I'd keep half for myself and give half to you."
The psychologist was surprised. He's going to get $5 million? He collapsed and died out of shock. It's not good to tell over too much good news in one shot.
Yeshaya 52:7 'מה נאוו על ההרים רגלי מבשר. משמיע שלום, מבשר טוב, משמיע ישועה, אומר לציון מלך אלוהייך' [This verse tells of how the announcement of Redemption will be in steps since many phrases ("משמיע שלום", "מבשר טוב", "משמיע ישועה") are used to denote an announcement - this therefore must refer to different stages in the process.]