The Importance of Being Earnest by Josh Blachorsky


 “Hard work never hurt anyone.” This mantra, despised by most high schoolers yet extolled by many prosperous individuals, seems to be the overarching theme of Parashat BeHa’alotecha. Many commentators are puzzled that the Parashah begins with the laws of the Menorah since these laws are already described in Parshiyot Tetzaveh and Emor. Why must they be repeated?

Rashi comments that the Menorah is mentioned here in order to give Aharon a job. After the dedication of the Mishkan is performed primarily by the Nesi’im, the Midrash records that Aharon becomes rather melancholy. Apparently, this is because two of his children, Nadav and Avihu, have just perished. However, the Midrash adopts another approach and states that he is solemn because he does not partake in the dedication of the Mishkan. This appears to be a difficult answer, as Aharon is a main player in the Mishkan; he is the Kohen Gadol and the day’s “master of ceremonies,” yet he is still upset that he cannot contribute. Aharon’s drive to be an Osek BeMitzvot shows the true nature of his character, one of selflessness and community. This point is furthered by many other traits for which Aharon is known. He is a “Rodeif Shalom,” a chaser of peace, meaning that he channels all of his drive and efforts into pursuing peace among Jews. He is not just a figurehead; he is always actively trying to make the Jewish community a better place.

This could be a possible explanation for to the Semichut Parshiyot of Naso and BeHa’alotecha. In the end of Naso, the Torah discusses the Birkot Kohanim, and in BeHa’alotecha, it addresses the true nature of the Kohen Gadol. With this connection, we can appreciate the inspirational blessings orated by Aharon and his sons and the deep meaning behind them. May we all merit and aspire to achieve the words of Aharon, his zeal, and his passion for the greater good.

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Equal Punishment by Nachum Fisch