A Utensil to be Proud of by Yehuda Feman


In the beginning of Parashat BeHa’alotecha, Aharon receives instructions on how to construct the Mishkan. A classic question is why the laws dealing with the Menorah are placed in this section of the Torah, immediately following the dedication of the Mizbei’ach. Rashi explains that Aharon was upset because he did not contribute to the dedication. Hashem wanted to give Aharon a unique Mitzvah just for the Kohanim, to console him. Ramban rejects Rashi’s answer. The Menorah could not have been for the consolation of Aharon, because lighting it is not purely for the Kohein Gadol, but for all Kohanim. Surely, if Hashem wanted to console Aharon, He would have given him a Mitzvah such as the special service of Yom Kippur, which is solely performed by the Kohein Gadol. Rather, Ramban explains, the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah is found next to the dedication of the Mizbei’ach as a foreshadowing of the rededication of the Mizbei’ach by the Chashmona’im of the Chanukah story. Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, poses three questions on this Rashi. Firstly, how would Rashi react to Ramban’s answer? Secondly, he points out that Ramban explains why the Torah here presents some of the details of the Menorah. Why doesn’t Rashi give an explanation for this? Finally, Rashi states that Hashem facilitated the Menorah’s construction. Why did Rashi deem it necessary to alert his audience to this idea, and how does it fit in with Rashi’s overall goal?

Rav Schneerson also provides answers to all three questions.

In a prior Pasuk, Hashem tells Aharon that the Mitzvah of Menorah will be greater than all of the dedications combined; this, however, poses a further question. Why is it greater to dedicate the Menorah than the Mizbei’ach? The Torah presents an answer to this question when it states that Hashem himself showed Moshe an image of what the Menorah should look like. This is one way that the Menorah was separately unique from all of the other dedications. Another proof follows those Meforashim who say that in addition to showing the image of the Menorah to Moshe, Hashem also created it. This means that Hashem alone created the Menorah, making it a unique vessel in the Mishkan. However, since this explanation seems non-literal, Rashi further states that there was indeed some human help. Yet, it seemed to require no special effort, as all the sculptor did was throw a single piece of gold into a fire and Hashem constructed it. From here emerges another question. Why is Rashi unusually vague when stating who built the Menorah, never even mentioning his name? Rav Schneerson explains that the Torah deliberately omitted the name, for the simple reason of according even more honor and grandeur to Aharon, the Kohein Gadol. If the Torah were to say a name, such as Moshe or Betzalel, then it would appear that they became partners with Hashem in the building of the Menorah, thus detracting from the honor given to Aharon.

Rashi’s ultimate goal is to show the honor accorded to Aharon by the Mitzvah of Menorah. He therefore omits construction details and specifically points  out that it was Hashem who made it.

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