Dvar Torah Parshat Behaalotcha 5773 2013

We read in the beginning of this Sidra the instructions that were given to Aharon, namely, that he was to light the Menorah in the משכן. Rashi asks why this item follows immediately after what we read in the end of the previous Sidra. That Sidra ends by telling us about the sacrifices that were brought by the prince of each tribe at the inauguration of the מזבח in the משכן. He answers that when Aharon saw that neither he nor his tribe of Levi had a role in the dedication of the מזבח, he became downcast. Hashem consoled him and said: שלך גדולה משלהם, “Your participation will be greater than theirs for you will light and trim the Menorah”. (Num. 8,2)

This response is quite questionable. Had he said you can go into the Holy of Holies of Yom Kippur, something that no other Kohen can do, that would have been a consolation. The fact is that lighting the Menorah was not exclusively the responsibility of the Kohen Gadol. This act could be performed by any Jew and certainly by a Kohen who is not the Kohen Gadol. How can this then console Aharon?

The truth, however, is the opposite of what most people think. It is commonly thought that greatness means doing something that no one else can do. The Torah’s ethical opinion does not agree with this. On the contrary, if a person who is important and distinguished does something that anyone can do, and he doesn’t say this is below my dignity, but does it wholeheartedly, then he is truly great.

That was Aharon’s consolation. He was given a holy task that was not exclusively his, but he would do it nobly and sincerely. That would be a great honor for him.

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