Honesty and Fire by Yair Manas

(2003/5763)

After Aharon and his sons completed the seven days of required sacrifices and the dedication of the Mishkan, Hashem did not bestow His Presence upon the Mishkan.  Aharon was worried that his involvement with the sin of the Golden Calf deemed his service unworthy of Hashem’s Presence to descend upon the Mishkan.  Aharon relayed his concerns to his brother Moshe.  Moshe immediately entered the Mishkan with Aharon and prayed to Hashem for mercy.  A fire from heaven then descended and consumed the offerings on the Altar.  From this episode we catch a glimpse of Aharon’s untarnished character.  Aharon did not point, accuse, or blame anyone else but himself for the absence of Hashem’s presence.  Aharon did not take the easy way out by faulting others.  Rather, he recognized that it was due to his own shortcomings and not anyone else’s that prevented what the entire nation was eagerly waiting for, the arrival of Hashem’s Holy Presence.

The Torah then tells us that after the Heavenly fire finally descended from the sky on the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, the entire nation erupted in song.  At this point, the Jews had already been in the desert for almost a year.  They were exposed to miracles on a daily basis.  There was a spiritual cloud that directed them during the day, and a pillar of fire that replaced it at night.  Wasn’t that a display of Hashem's Presence?  Yet we find that the Jews yearned for Hashem’s Presence to descend upon the Mishkan.  Why weren’t they content with the miracles that they were constantly exposed to?  Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin explains that as they saw the Cloud of Glory each day, they became accustomed to it and yearned for more.  Therefore, at the site of this new display of Hashem’s Presence, the Jews deeply appreciated and rejoiced, since it showed that Hashem wanted to be close to them.

We learn two valuable lessons from this Parsha.  One should never take the easy way out and blame others.  Rather, one should recognize one’s own shortcomings and attempt to correct them.  Each day we are exposed to Hashem’s wonderful blessings and miracles.  Our challenge is to pay attention to them and express our thanks and feelings of gratitude to Hashem, as learnt from the song that the Jews sang after Hashem’s Holy Presence arrived in the Mishkan.

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