Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Honor of Kings

Certain people believe that we should pay no heed to what non-Jewish political leaders do. In contrast, the Alter of Slobodka, zt”l, held to a very different view. “We find in the Tanach that the honor conferred by mortal kings—even non-Jewish kings—is considered very important. For example, regarding Yosef we find, 'ויסר פרעה טבעתו מעל ידו ויתן אותה על יד יוסף וילבש אותו בגדי שש וישם רביד הזהב על צוארו וירכב אותו במרכבת המשנה ויקראו לפניו אברך' . ‘And Pharaoh removed his ring from upon his hand and gave it upon the hand of Yosef, and he dressed him in silken garments and placed a golden diadem upon his neck, and had him ride in the viceroy’s chariot, and they called before him, “Avreich.”’ We find a similar example of such greatness regarding Mordechai. Even regarding the ultimate future we find a description of how the non-Jews will honor us which concludes with, 'והיו מלכים אומניך' —‘And kings will be your nursemaids.’
“In Zevachim 19 we also find a similar regard for the respect conferred by a non-Jewish king. ‘Once, Rav Huna bar Nosson went before Izgadar the king of Persia and his belt was higher than it should be. The king lowered it so that his garments should be pleasing and said, “It says about you that you are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. You must therefore go with your belt in its proper place like a kohein when he does avodah.’
“‘When he told Ameimar this story, Ameimar commented, “He fulfilled in you, ‘And kings shall be your nursemaids.’”
“One may well ask what is so great about a non-Jewish king showing Rav Huna bar Nosson some respect. The answer is that no king rules without Hashem’s tacit agreement. Since Hashem crowned him and allows him to rule, the honor he confers is very important. Even if a non-Jewish king merely straightens a sage’s belt one time, this is a great enough honor to partially fulfill the verse, ‘And kings shall be your nursemaids.’”

No comments: