This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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Finally Solomon's Temple is complete. Amidst the joyous multitudes of Israel, King Solomon transports the Ark of the Covenent from the city of David where it has been until now, to its rightful location in the Holy of Holies.

The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 8:1) provides an additional detail to the story. The procession, says the Midrash, reached the Temple gates. And then--

Solomon cried out, "Lift up your hands, O gates! Raise yourselves high, gateways of the world, and let the King of Honor enter!" (Psalms 24) The gates wanted to smash Solomon's head. They said to him, "Who is this King of Honor?" He responded, "Hashem, Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Honor, Selah!" (Psalms, ibid.)

In other words, the Temple gates misunderstood Solomon's cry, and they thought he was calling himself the King of Honor. (The commentators suggest that this Midrash really refers to the angels in charge of the gates, or else the story is a poetic metaphor and it simply means that the multitudes of the people misunderstood Solomon.)

Solomon reassured them, "Hashem, Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Honor."

The Midrash then adds one point. Why is Hashem called the King of Honor? Because He confers honor upon those who fear Him.

Yefe Toar offers the following explanation:

There are those, he writes, who are always looking for ways to belittle others. They are inveterate fault-finders, and cannot rest until they find some fault in everyone. And curiously enough, these people often have the lowest self-esteem. They themselves are insecure, and therefore they must find some small measure of security in "putting down" everyone else.

Hashem is called the King of Honor, the One to whom all honor truly belongs.

And precisely for this reason we find that Hashem "grants honor to those who fear Him." Nobody can possibly take away from Hashem's own honor. It is perfect in itself, and it isn't built upon belittling anyone else.

The Mishnah (Avos 4:1) states: "Who is honored? He who honors others." One who freely gives honor to others demonstrates that his own self-image doesn't depend on making everyone else smaller than him. He who is truly an honorable person can feel free to give everyone else his due.

Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Levi Langer

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