A MAN OF THE PEOPLE
"Aaron did so; towards the body of the menorah did he light its lamp, as Hashem had commanded Moses" (Numbers8:3).
In this week's Torah portion, Aaron and the Levites are given the commandment to light the menorah in the Temple. This is a very prestigious mitzvah, considering that the menorah was lit every day in the Temple, and that its lighting is even commemorated today through the kindling of the Shabbat and Chanukah candles. Commenting on the first words in the above verse, Rashi, the fundamental commentator on the Torah, teaches us something very interesting. He states that this verse applauds Aaron for not deviating from his assignment.
Rabbi Meir of Premishlan, one of the first great Chassidic Rebbes at the end of the 18th century, wonders why this is so praiseworthy that it deserves mention. Why would Aaron even consider deviating from G-d's instruction in lighting the menorah, that the Torah must specifically inform us that he followed the command? He answers his question with the following famous Midrash:
Aaron was a man of the people. He would often walk from tent to tent in order to "check up" on the Jewish people. If someone had a problem, Aaron would not leave until it was solved. If someone didn't understand a part of the Torah, he would learn with them. Aaron truly cared about each and every Jew, and was very concerned with their well-being.
There is so much to be learned from Aaron. Aaron was the Kohen Gadol, the high priest of Israel, a man whose spirituality was equal to or even greater than that of Moses, and he was very concerned with the well-being of the average person. He didn't care if they were a scholar or close to broke. He cared about them, and he was willing to help them out with whatever they needed. He wasn't changed by his position. He looked upon himself as being just like everybody else. That is what Rashi means when he comments that the Torah is praising Aaron for not deviating. Despite his position of importance, he remained unchanged in his care and concern for those around him.
Now, if Aaron could live like this, shouldn't we? How many times have we been in synagogue and seen someone do something not halachically correct, and rather than helping them and teaching them the proper thing to do, we think to ourselves, "That person has a long way to go!". Or, when was the last time we walked over to our neighbor's house, just to see how things are going, and with the full-intent of helping them with any problems that they might have? How many of us hold some lofty position in our jobs and rarely call on those below us?
If these things were so natural to a man as spiritually elite as Aaron, shouldn't we be doing them as well? We should all work harder to show a true care for every person that we encounter. We must realize that we are not above anybody. Hashem is the only One who is above, and as it says in Parshat Kedoshim, "You shall love your fellow as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). We should all work hard to follow Aaron's lead.
Pinchas Landis, a native Atlantan, will be attending Yeshiva University in the fall.
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