WAY TO GLOW
Rabbi Shmuel Weiss
If you can't trust the High Priest, who can you trust? This was the man who was closest to Hashem, the spiritual leader in whom the nation placed its trust.
If you can't trust the High Priest, who can you trust? This was the man who was closest to Hashem, the spiritual leader in whom the nation placed its trust. So then why, on the verse, "Aaron did so; toward the face of the menorah he kindled its lamps, as Hashem had commanded Moses," (Numbers 8:3) does the fundamental Torah commentator Rashi explain: "This is to praise Aaron for not deviating from Hashem's directive." Did Rashi really think that Aaron would fail to carry out his instructions to the letter?
No, but certainly Aaron must have had a conflict of emotions. He watched as the leaders of the tribes brought their gifts with great pomp and ceremony at the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and he remained unmoved at his post. He watched as the other Kohanim (priests) vied for the privilege of collecting the ashes from the altar which, by tradition, ensured great wealth as a reward and never deviated from his assigned task.
Every day, even on Shabbat and festivals, Aaron lit the menorah that represented the eternal flame symbolizing the indestructible nature of the Torah which is often compared to a glowing fire. Aaron had good excuses to find a replacement, at least for a little while. After all, he deserved to participate in the consecration ceremony as much as anyone else. He also had a right to collect his financial "piece of the pie" which was divvied out among all the other Kohanim. However, he let it all go and refused to forsake even for one moment the opportunity to light the menorah.
We now understand the praise of Aaron. When given a choice between fame and fortune on the one hand, and the light of spiritual excellence on the other, Aaron chose the latter. Not just because he had been so commanded, but because he realized the intrinsic value of what the menorah represented, that it was worth more than all the other treasures combined. Many of us, if we are to be honest, face the same predicament as Aaron. We, too, must juggle several weighty considerations: Do we direct our energies towards financial excellence? Do we seek notoriety and public acclaim? Or do we adjust our priorities so that Torah is our prime pursuit? Doing all we can to excel in Torah study; trying to turn our children into Torah-minded Jews; fulfilling mitzvot with enthusiasm and joy Aaron's loyalty to the menorah lighting indicates that he knew the "way to glow." Light, not might, makes right.
Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Raanana, Israel, is a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family.
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