This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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"The king will enter by way of the forecourt of the gate from the outside, and he will remain standing at the doorpost. And the priests will offer his elevation-offering and his peace offering." (Ezekiel 46:2)

Let us supply a bit of background material for this verse.

The Torah provides for a dual leadership in Israel. The Kohen Gadol, or High Priest, was the spiritual leader and directed the service in the Temple. The king, as the political leader, headed the government. As might be expected, at times there was an unwanted friction between these two leaders.

For example, in Ezekiel 21:37 the prophet reprimands the king:

"So has Hashem the Lord said: will you remove the mitznefes (the High Priest's headpiece) and raise up the crown [of the king]? This [the crown] and not that [the mitznefes]? ... Then this [the crown] too will not endure."

In other words, the king is accused of usurping the power which rightfully belonged to the High Priest.

Compare this with the image depicted in the Book of Zacharia of the mutual relationship which the two will enjoy in time to come:

"Behold, a man [the Messiah] ... he will build the Temple of Hashem ... and he will sit and reign on his throne, and the Priest will be on his throne, and there will be an understanding of peace between the two." (Zach. 6:12)

This is the backdrop for our own verse in this week's haftorah.

On the Sabbath day and on the Day of the New Moon, the king will go to the Temple and there he will publicly offer certain prescribed sacrifices. He will remain "standing at the doorpost" while inside the Temple the priests will offer his sacrifices at the Altar.

This posture of the king is a critical point here.

The king of Israel holds a position of great importance. But in time to come, he will understand also where his authority ends. In contrast to the practice of some Israelite kings of the past, who attempted to whittle away from the authority of the priesthood, the future king will recognize that at the gateway of the Temple even he must surrender his exalted status whilst in the presence of the Temple and its service.

Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer

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