Friday, June 5, 2015

Parsha: Aharon Listened to God - A Chiddush???

Rav Yehuda Turetsky

The Torah (Bamidbar 8:3) finds it necessary to state that Aharon obeyed God’s command to light the Menorah. As Aharon had already distinguished himself as an extremely committed and dedicated Jew, one recognized by Hashem for his religious accomplishments, one can surely wonder why the Torah felt the need to explicitly inform us of Aharon’s performance of the Mitzvah of Menorah.  Is it not obvious that Aharon would listen to God?

Why does the Torah find it necessary to explicitly record that Aharon obeyed God’s directive?

Ramban (ad loc) writes that Aharon lit the Menorah each day despite there being no obligation to do so. His children were also permitted to light, yet he made sure that he would be the one lighting each day. Some explain that what motivated Aharon was not c”v selfishness, but rather an awareness that he was in a unique position to best fulfill this Mitzvah.[1]

For Ramban, Aharon’s actions are recorded because they went above and beyond his core responsibilities and obligations. His desire to do Mitzvot was so great that he lit the Menorah each day despite not being required to do so. 

Rashi (ad loc) explains that the Torah is praising Aharon for not changing at all from what Hashem commanded. Rashi may be highlighting an important yet underappreciated element of Avodat Hashem. It is easy to overlook the challenge in strict observance of Mitzvot. Many desire and actively perform Mitzvot, but very few are able to consistently follow each and every part of the Divine command.

Ramban reminds us that ambition in Avodat Hashem often demands doing not only that which we are commanded. We are to try and fulfill all Mitzvot, even those we are not required to perform. Rashi highlights an alternate pathway towards religious excellence. For him, greatness is found not only in the ambitious desire to do that which is not required. Meeting one’s obligations in an exacting and precise way is also a form of greatness.

[1] This general approach relates to a question regarding who is permitted to light the Menorah in the Mikdash. See Talmud Yoma 24b with Ritva and Meiri (ad loc), Rambam and Ra’avad Biat HaMikdash 9:7, Devar Avraham 3:1:14, and Chidushei HaGrach (ad loc).

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