Wednesday, June 3, 2009

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In this week's Torah Portion, Beha'alotcha, Aharon is instructed on how to light the Menorah, and did as he was told, and "did not deviate". Why were we told that Aharon did not deviate? In order to understand this, we must first appreciate what has been happening in Aharon's life at the time: On the first day of Nissan of that year, the Mishkan was complete, Aharon gave the first public Birkat Kohanim (priestly blessings), and each tribe's leader brought their own personal offering in celebration. The Medrash Tanchuma (commentator) says that Aharon was sad that his tribe was the only one that was not able to contribute with his own Korban offering. Still, Aharon accepted everyone else's Korban, as he was instructed, as well as performing his role of lighting the Menorah also as he was instructed.

Rav Meir of Premishlan explains that it turned out that Aharon was given the only commandment that would endure forever (candle-lighting endures today as Friday night candles, as lighting the Menorah on Chanukah, etc)! This was especially fitting for Aharon who was described in the Midrash as a "man of the people", for he would regularly walk among the
nation and mingle with them, looking to help anyone, be it with teaching them Torah, how to pray, or resolving arguments. Rav Meir explains that even after Aharon was given the most prestigious task of lighting the Menorah, he still "did not deviate", and continued to mingle with the Jews. It is this very Midda (character trait) of guiding others that the lighting of the Menorah represented! Aharon's actions beg the question: Do we mingle and help others, or are we too busy with our jobs and lives to bother?

Written by Rabbi Shlomo Ressler

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