In the beginning of Parashat VaYikra the Torah writes, “VeNatenu Bnei Aharon HaKohein Eish Al HaMizbei’ach…,” “And the sons of Aharon the Kohein shall put a fire upon the altar…” (VaYikra 1:7). Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his Darash Moshe, points out that sometimes the Torah states “Bnei Aharon HaKohein,” the sons of Aharon the Kohein, but in other places it will state “Bnei Aharon HaKohanim,” the sons of Aharon the Kohanim. In our case of placing the fire on the Mizbei’ach it states “Bnei Aharon HaKohein.” Why does the Torah choose different expressions in regard to different tasks of the Kohein?
Rav Moshe answers that if the wood and fire are already arranged, the sacrifice may be offered by any Kohein. When the offering must still be prepared for sacrifice, the Kohein must be aware that he’s one of “the sons of Aaron the Kohanim,” who all are of exemplary behavior. Therefore, the people that witness their behavior will learn to fear Hashem. In Sefer Devarim (14:23) the Torah writes: “…Lema’an Tilmad LeYir’ah Et Hashem…,” “in order that you learn to fear Hashem,” that people should see the Kohanim doing their service. The third level involves Kohanim who place fire on the altar in order to bring down fire from heaven. These Kohanim must know how to perform this act just as Aharon the Kohein did.
Rav Moshe extends this message to our own lives today as well. When the generation is observant we may learn from anyone and teach anyone. No matter what view we follow, we can achieve perfection. However, in a generation where non-believers spread non-authentic views of Judaism, and the views lead the public to misinterpret the Torah, we must make sure that one who teaches Torah is fit for the position. The spirit of holiness and purity that are symbolized by fire symbolize that this person must be on an even higher level. He must follow the path of Aharon the Kohein, who institutes no changes and whose thoughts conform only to the views of the Torah.
Rambam (Hilchot Shemitah VeYoveil 13:2-3) writes that the tribe of Leivi had the job to teach the ways of Hashem. He continues that the tribe of Leivi is not unique; rather, anyone who wants to dedicate himself to this lifestyle has this ability. The Gemara writes, “Someone who is compared to an angel of Hashem is a person from whose mouth we should seek Torah”(Chagigah 14b). We all strive to emulate the Kohein, the tribe of Leivi, by our perfect character traits. If we do so then this month of Nisan will truly be fulfilled, just like it is written in the Gemara, “In Nisan we were redeemed and in Nisan we will be redeemed” (Rosh HaShanah 10a).