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Parshat Beha’alotecha

By: Rabbi Dr Zvi Ron

The Midrash Tanchuma asks the classic question, “Why does the Torah write about Aharon’s role in lighting the menorah right after telling us about the gifts of the leaders of the tribes at the dedication of the Tabernacle?” The famous answer given is that after all the princes gave their donations, Aharon was very upset that he had not participated in the dedication. Hashem consoled Aharon by telling him that he had an even more important role: lighting the menorah.

Why was Aharon so upset that he hadn’t offered a donation? So what if the leaders brought animals to the Tabernacle – it was Aharon who actually sacrificed them! Furthermore, why is lighting the menorah more of a consolation than any of the other daily services that Aharon performed?

Ramban explains that the Torah wrote out the gifts of every tribal leader, even though they were all exactly the same, to show us that although they each came up with their donation idea on their own, they were identical because they had all figured out exactly what Hashem wanted them to bring. This was amazing, almost miraculous – for twelve tribal leaders to all come to the same exact conclusion and understand correctly what Hashem wanted them to do! This is what upset Aharon. He always faithfully followed the commands given him, but he did not have the experience of figuring out on his own what Hashem wanted him to do.

Hashem consoled Aharon with the menorah. Ramban explains that it was the future menorah from the time of Aharon's descendants, the Maccabees, that Hashem showed him. Hashem told Aharon that there would be in the future a time of great turmoil and uncertainty when the Jewish people would not know what to do – fight or die as martyrs? Destroy what the Greeks defiled or purify? Kill the Hellenized Jews or not? The Maccabees made their choices, and when they lit the menorah, Hashem made a miracle to show that He agreed with their approach, that the Maccabees had correctly understood what Hashem wanted them to do. This is what consoled Aharon: That in the uncertain future, in a time when there was no more prophecy, his descendants would be able to figure out what Hashem wanted them to do.

This is our greatest joy as well: The feeling that we are on the right path, making the correct choices, doing what Hashem wants us to do. How do we develop this ability? By consistently doing mitzvot and learning Torah, we develop closeness to Hashem. This relationship helps us in our times of decision-making to pick the right direction, as the princes and Maccabees did in times past.     




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