Monday, March 17, 2014

Shmini: Don't Fear The Shor

In  Parshat Shmini (9:7) we're told that Moshe instructed Aharon to approach the altar (mizbeach). As Aharon was about to offer sacrifices anyway, these words of Moshe seem unneeded, he was obviously going to the mizbeach. 

Chazal provide the following broader context: When the time for the inauguration of the mizbeach arrived Moshe told Aharon what to do, and then Aharon didn't move.  That's whye Moshe said "go close to the altar." 

Torat Kohanim explains further, telling us what held Aharon back. Aharon saw the image of an ox (shor) in place of the mizbeach. He remembered his mistake, the skeleton in his closet, and therefore he feared approaching the mizbeach. Moshe sensed Aharon's ambivalence and said, "Don’t fear the shor, approach the mizbeach."

Yalkut Yosef cites Vayikra Rabba which states that after the tragic event transpired Aharon wanted to bear the burden of the cheit ha'eigel rather than the Jewish People having to sin and bear it. Hashem's response was, "You will be Kohein Gadol, because of your love and selflessness in putting the people first." Moshe told Aharon here, "The eigel represents specifically (davka) why you were chosen, because you put the people first. That’s why you needn't hesitate and should proceed to the mizbeach."

These ideas sparked an association for me regarding Moshe Rabeinu. The Kli Yakar suggests that Moshe broke the luchot due to his great love for the Jewish People. He did what he did not out of anger but out of caring.He wanted to be "in trouble" together with Am Yisrael, rather than being a "goody goody" set apart from them. I heard this Kli Yakar presented by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and his powerful follow up comment was: "Imagine the Ahavat Yisrael that the Kli Yakar must have had, to think of this pshat (approach)."

It's clear that out of their abundant love for the Jewish People Moshe and Aharon put others first, rather than covering for themselves. May we be blessed to follow the high standard of sacrifice and love set by our great leaders.

2 Comments:

Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

My school's weekly DT ran short this week so at the last minute they asked if I could give them more. Here's the longer version:

Shmini: Don't Fear The Shor
In Parshat Shmini (9:7) we're told that Moshe instructed Aharon to approach the altar (mizbeach). As Aharon was about to offer sacrifices anyway, these words of Moshe seem unneeded, he was obviously going to the mizbeach.

Chazal provide the following broader context: When the time for the inauguration of the mizbeach arrived Moshe told Aharon what to do, and then Aharon didn't move. That's whye Moshe said "go close to the altar."

Torat Kohanim explains further, telling us what held Aharon back. Aharon saw the image of an ox (shor) in place of the mizbeach. He remembered his mistake, the skeleton in his closet, and therefore he feared approaching the mizbeach. Moshe sensed Aharon's ambivalence and said, "Don’t fear the shor, approach the mizbeach."

Yalkut Yosef cites Vayikra Rabba which states that after the tragic event transpired Aharon wanted to bear the burden of the cheit ha'eigel rather than the Jewish People having to sin and bear it. Hashem's response was, "You will be Kohein Gadol, because of your love and selflessness in putting the people first." Moshe told Aharon here, "The eigel represents specifically (davka) why you were chosen, because you put the people first. That’s why you needn't hesitate and should proceed to the mizbeach."

These ideas sparked an association for me regarding Moshe Rabeinu. The Kli Yakar suggests that Moshe broke the luchot due to his great love for the Jewish People. He did what he did not out of anger but out of caring.He wanted to be "in trouble" together with Am Yisrael, rather than being a "goody goody" set apart from them. I heard this Kli Yakar presented by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and his powerful follow up comment was: "Imagine the Ahavat Yisrael that the Kli Yakar must have had, to think of this pshat (approach)."

It's clear that out of their abundant love for the Jewish People Moshe and Aharon put others first, rather than covering for themselves. This is one of the greatest signs of a true leader, integrity. Also, it shows us how important love for others is. One of the greatest examples that our holy leaders set for us is the example of how to be profoundly kind.

Rav Chaim Brisker, who was known for his great analytic skills and sophisticated approach to studying Talmud, was once asked what he thought the most important role of a rabbi was. He said that he felt that THE role of a rabbi is to do chesed. He was grateful to have his position as a known rabbi in order to be able to do kindness for others. His house was literally filled with people in need. The are many stories of him giving as much as he could of all he had out his love for his fellow Jews. Rav Chaim followed the example of Moshe and Aharon in having abundant Ahavat Yisrael.

May we be blessed to follow the high standard of sacrifice and love set by our great leaders.

March 22, 2014 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...


Another Short Shmini Thought

Why is the opening day of the Mishkan called the eighth day rather than being referred to as the first day? Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky explained that the Torah here is teaching the importance of preparation. Seven days preceded the first day, making it the eighth day rather than the first. In life, what looks like the start comes along late in the process, following great preparation. It would serve us well to keep this in mind in general as we see other people and experience various situations in life. Every person has a history. Every flower has roots.

When Yaakov met the malach of Eisav and wrestled him and won we don't see him preparing for this battle. His life up to that moment was his preparation. So too with us, no moment, no challenge that we live exists in a vacuum. Every second we live up till the one we're living now has been preparing us for this moment.

It was not that long ago that students in Frisch and their friends and siblings had Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. You might think these events take a few hours. Some would say that a Bar or Bat Mitzvah actually takes just the fraction of the second it takes to turn 12 or 13. In truth, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is comprised of the entire 12 or 13 years leading up to the event.

May we be blessed to always be preparing and building to make ourselves, each other and the world better.

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In a class when we were discussing these ideas a memory came to mind relating to Moshe's wanting to be with the Jewish People and not seen as a separate goody goody.

I was sleeping over at a friend's house on a weeknight (there must have been some reason) in a low elementary school grade (maybe 3rd?) We watched I Dream Of Jeanie, were ready to go to sleep. His mother called him on not having done his homework.She took him aside, yelled at him, made him do it.

When the smoke cleared she asked me, "Your mother has to deal with this kind of thing with your brother, right?" I couldn't stand her making my brother and my friend the bad kids and me the goodie goodie. So I said (even though it wan't true) that my mother had to deal with that kind of thing with me too. She found it hard to believe me, was surprised by what I said. I tried.

March 22, 2014 at 10:28 PM  

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