“‘I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession.’” — Ezekiel 44:28
The Torah portion for this week is Emor, which means “speak,” from Leviticus 21:1–24:23, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 44:15–31.
One summer morning, I took my young grandson with me to a convenience store. As I was paying for the groceries, my grandson pointed wildly at the candies near the register, making it very obvious that he wanted one. Now I was in a real dilemma. I really want to spoil my grandkids, but I also need to do what is best for them and I knew that this particular type of candy was off-limits for a 2-year-old. So I decided to get him an ice pop instead. But all my grandson did as I walked to the freezer section was scream and cry. Didn’t he know I was getting him something bigger and better?
It’s hard when we don’t get what we want – whether we are 2 or 92! But hopefully, with age, we learn that often when we don’t get what we want, it’s because God has something better in mind.
In this week’s Haftorah reading, the prophet Ezekiel was describing the service that would take place in the Third Temple that would be built during the times of the Messiah. As he depicted the service, he affirmed many of the laws first imparted in the Bible. One such teaching is repeated in our verse for today: “I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession.”
Unlike all the other Israelites, the members of the tribe of Levi, who would serve as the priests, would not be given a portion in the land in Israel.
Now, doesn’t that seem unfair? The priests served God more than anyone else. They dedicated their lives to service. And in return, they were the only ones who were not allowed to possess land? One could argue that they should be compensated with a double portion of land!
However, as the verse explains, the Levites got something even better than land; they received God. On a practical level this meant that the Levites didn’t have to be bogged down with the worries and toil of owning land. They were given places to live and sustenance to live on. This freed them to be completely dedicated to God without concerns of the material world. On a spiritual level, the Levites were given the gift of connecting with God in a deeper way than the rest of the nation. This spiritual connection was one that they would enjoy for all eternity.
Friends, when we don’t get what we want, it’s because God has something much better to give us. Often enough, that “something better” is God Himself!
What could be more valuable than that?
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President