("Yechezkel"/Ezekiel 43:10-27) Some general background on the "Haftarot"
The Haftarah of Parshat Tetzaveh is of above-average difficulty, because it contains an above-average amount of technical information. That is, in it, the Prophet Yechezkel gives the details of the construction of the Altar in the "Beit HaMikdash," the Holy Temple of the Mashiach. There is an opinion cited in RASHI that these details relate to the Second Temple, but that is based on the idea that that Temple could have been the Temple of the Mashiach, if not for the fact that "garam ha-chet," "sin intervened," and the "Teshuvah," the Repentance, of the People was inadequate, and the Redemption of the Jewish People was pushed off into the future.
The Haftarah also describes the Dedication of that Great Temple in the Messianic Age.
Allow me to include in this "Introduction" some paragraphs from "The Third Beis HaMikdash - The Third Temple," by Rabbi Shalom Dov Steinberg, published by Moznaim, regarding the dispute in Jewish Tradition as to whether the Third Beit HaMikdash will be constructed in Heaven and descend to earth, or be constructed by human effort:
"Regarding the rebuilding of the Third Temple envisioned in the prophecies of Yechezkel (Yechezkel chs. 40-48), there are two opinions: One view maintains that the future "Beis HaMikdash" will be built by the Holy One, blessed is He, Himself (Shemos Rabbah 15:1; Tanchuma, Ki Tissa 13). Similarly, the greatest of the classic commentators, Rashi, writes that the future Temple which we eagerly await, stands in the heavens fully built and exquisitely decorated, and from there it will descend. This is the meaning of the verse (Shemos 16:17), "The Sanctuary, O G-d, which Your hands have established" (commentary to Sukkah 41a). The Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 30a) also endorses this view: "The future Temple is in the hands of Heaven."
In contrast, another view maintains that the future Temple will be built by man, as the Rambam states explicitly (Pirush HaMishnah, Introduction; Hilchos Melachim). This opinion is based on the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 9) which states explicitly that Mashiach, the Messiah of flesh and blood, will build the Third Temple.
Tiferes Yisrael (Middos) offers a solution to this dilemma by explaining that the Holy One, blessed is He, will help the Jewish People in a miraculous way to rebuild the "Beis HaMikdash." In this vein, the author of "Aruch l'Ner" (Sukkah 41a) writes: 'The future "Beis HaMikdash" will certainly be built by man.' And regarding the verse, "The Sanctuary, O G-d, which Your hands have established," from which the "Midrash Tanchuma" learns that it will descend from Heaven, refers to the spiritual Temple which will descend and become infused in the physical building, like a soul within a body!" "
Who was Yechezkel?
According to "Seder Olam Rabbah," an important source for the dating of events in Jewish History, Yechezkel was a contemporary of the Prophets Tzephaniah, Yirmiyahu and Uriah, and they all prophesied around the time of the Destruction of the First Beit HaMikdash and the Babylonian Exile. According to the Talmud (Bava Batra 14:) Yechezkel was the son of "Yirmiyahu"/Jeremiah, but he was called "ben Buzi," "son of the insulted one," because the Jewish People foolishly didn't listen to the last warning of impending destruction that they received from Yirmiyahu, but rather insulted and abused him.
Yechezkels special mission was to raise the spirit of the Jewish People in Babylon, where they tasted their first bitter taste of Exile. The Zohar, cited by Y. Y. Chasida, in his "Otzar Ishei HaTanach," a compendium of information about Biblical personalities, says of Yechezkels famous Vision of the Divine Chariot, the "Maaseh Merkavah," the following:
"The Prophet Yechezkel was trustworthy, and everything that he saw was true, and it was with the permission of the Holy One, Blessed be He, that he revealed everything that he saw, and all of it was necessary. For when he would tell his fellow Jews that 'your Master and all of His Hosts have come to live with you in the Exile,' they didnt believe him, until he was forced to reveal everything that he saw. 'I saw this and I saw this;' once the Jewish People saw this, they rejoiced. And when they heard those things coming from he mouth of Yechezkel, they didnt feel their Exile at all, for they knew that the Holy One, Blessed be He, had not abandoned them, and the Divine Presence was with them in Exile."
In our Haftarah, Yechezkel continues to console the People of Israel, by revealing to them his prophetic vision of the Altar in the Temple to be built at the time of the Mashiach, the anointed Redeemer of Israel, and by describing the sacrificial component of its dedication ceremony.
Summary of the Haftarah
Introduction to the Blueprint
As mentioned above, RASHI relates this "House" to the Second Temple, which "could have been" the Eternal Temple. RADAK disagrees, explaining that the reference is to the Third Temple, which will be built in the future at the time of the Mashiach.
RADAK also relates the reference to accurate measurement to Hashem's method of administering Justice, "Midah K'neged Midah," "Measure for Measure."
RADAK's interpretation of this verse as a promise to the People in Babylonia concerning the Temple to be built in the distant future is, as he says explicitly, "a great proof to the reality of 'Techiat HaMetim,' the future Resurrection of the Dead."
(The above was the free translation of this difficult verse found in "The Midrash says on the Weekly Haftaros - Vol. 2" by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, based on the Metzudat David)
(The Metzudat David and the Metzudat Tziyon, along with RASHI, the RADAK and the Targum Yonatan, are some of the Classical Commentators on the Prophets and the Sacred Writings; they are printed in nearly all of the collections of commentaries, known as "Mikraot Gedolot," "Great Sacred Texts." Other great commentaries are by the MALBIM and the MAHARAL, and many, many others.)
The Metzudat David also cites the above verse as a proof of "Techiyat Ha-Metim," the "Revival of the Dead" in the future.
Rabbi Weissman cites the Rokeach on this verse, who explains the double occurrence of the expression "this is the Law of the House" as referring to the fact that there are two "Batei Mikdash," two holy Temples, the "Beit Mikdash shel Matah," the earthly Temple, and the "Beit Mikdash shel Maalah," the Heavenly Temple, which are arrayed one opposite the other.
Technical Description of the Future Altar
"G-d is in the details" (Yechezkel 43:13-17)
The following section summarizes in very rough (and skippable) detail the information contained in the above verses:
The altar will have the form of three square copper platforms one atop the other, filled with earth, with a woodpile and the sacred flame on top.
The bottom platform, called the "Yesod," the base or foundation, will be 32 "amot" by 32 "amot" (in the description that follows, some of the references to "amot" refer to the classic "amah," equal to five "tefachim," or fists, and some to the special "amah," equal to six "tefachim," six fists.) The classic "amah" has been estimated to be equal to somewhere between 18 inches and two feet.
Thus, the "Yesod," measured somewhere between 48 feet by 48 feet, and 64 feet by 64 feet, or approximately between 2304 square feet and 4096 square feet. The "Kohanim," the Priests, would walk on the "Yesod" (also known as the Azarah Ketana" around the perimeter of the "Sovev" (also known as the "Azarah Gedolah"), and on the "Azarah Gedolah" around the perimeter of the smaller "Ariel" (the top of the "Mizbeach," or Altar), when they performed their sacrificial tasks on the Altar.
The height of the "Ariel" is four "amot" and on it are four horns.
On the "Ariel" will be the "Maarachah," the woodpile.
A "verbal diagram" (?) would look like this:
"Maarachah" - the Woodpile - 24 "amot" by 24 "amot"
The top of the Altar was called the "Ariel," which means the "Lion of G-d" because the fire on top of the "Mizbeach," which would come down from Heaven, and would never be extinguished, even though in the future, as it was in the past, the flame will have to be tended by the "Kohanim," was in the shape of a crouching lion.
Dedication Ceremony of the Future "Mizbach HaNechoshet," the Copper Altar;
Sacrificial Component (Yechezkel 43:18-27):
Give to the "Kohanim," Descendants of "Zadok," a young bull for a "Chatat," or Sin Offering. Sprinkle its blood on the Altar, place some of its blood on the four horns of the bull and on the "horns" of the Altar.
Second through Eighth Days:
Bring a blemish-free goat as a "Chatat" Offering, and sprinkle its blood on the Altar. Bring a bull and a ram as "Olah" Offerings, which are completely burnt, after sprinkling their blood on the altar.
From the eighth day and onwards, the Altar is considered to be "trained" for its role as the medium of sacrifice in the future Temple.
Text of Yechezkel 43:27, "And when they have accomplished the days, it shall be that upon the eighth day and forwards, the Priests shall make your "burnt offerings" upon the altar, and your "peace offerings;" and I will accept you, says the L-rd G-d.
Parshah - Haftarah Connections
A Prayerful Conclusion
Quoting again from "The Third Beis HaMikdash - The Third Temple," by Rabbi Shalom Dov Steinberg,
"I would like to conclude with a short prayer: May the day when Yeshayahu's prophecy becomes reality take place very, very soon: 'And in the end, the mountain of G-d's House will be firmly established and many nations will stream toward it. Then, many nations will say, 'Come, let us go up to the Mountain of G-d, to the House of the G-d of Ya'akov ' And they will beat their swords into pruning-tools. Nations will not lift up sword against another nation, and they will no longer learn about waging war' (Yeshayahu 2:2-4)."
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU