Tes Zayin Tammuz, 5775
Sir Herbert Samuel, a non-practicing Jew, was the first High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine in the 1920s. These unique circumstances led to an interesting halachic question. First of all, was his position as High Commissioner prominent enough to warrant the berachah said when seeing a king? And second, if a berachah should indeed be recited, should it be the berachahsaid on a Jewish king (shechalak mikvodo lirei'av), being that he was Jewish, or the one said on a non-Jewish king (shenasan mikvodo lebasar vedam), since he was a representative of the British government?
This question was addressed by R. Chalfon Moshe HaKohen, a rabbi in Djerba, Tunisia. (Apparently, Sir Samuel traveled abroad as part of his duties and visited this Tunisian island as well.) R. Moshe cited a similar query that was presented to the Radvaz, whether a berachah should be recited upon seeing the Pasha of Egypt, appointed to the position by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
The Radvaz, in turn, makes reference to a teshuvah penned by R. Avraham Av Beis Din, which deals with reciting a berachah on the local rulers of medieval Europe. R. Avraham rules that one can recite the berachah, being that these rulers had the power to punish and even kill as they saw fit, with no one to overturn their decisions.
However, a distinction can be made between these local rulers and a Pasha.