Perashat Shemot 5778
Perashat Shemot 5778Friday, January 05, 2018
After Am Yisrael suffers many years of harsh slavery in Egypt, Hashem commands Moshe to petition Pharaoh to release them from their bondage and deliver them to freedom.
With great humility, Moshe asks Hashem to send someone else to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Out of respect for his older brother Aharon, who was the leader of Am Yisrael, Moshe didn't want to hurt him by assuming his position.
Nevertheless, Hashem instructs Moshe to accept the mission, explaining that Aharon would be pleased that his younger brother was appointed to such a prestigious calling. The Pesukim describe this exchange as follows: "And Hashem's wrath was kindled against Moshe, and He said, 'Is there not Aharon your brother, the Levite? I know that he will surely speak, and behold, he is coming forth toward you, and when he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart'."
Why does Hashem call Aharon "the Levite"? Moshe certainly knew that his brother belonged to the tribe of Levi. Furthermore, Aharon and his descendants were later known as Kohanim rather than Leviim, so what is the significance of describing him as "the Levite"?
Rashi explains why Hashem uses this terminology: "Not as you think, that he will resent your attaining a high position. Because of this [Aharon's goodness and humility], Aharon merited the ornament of the breastplate, which is placed over the heart." The breastplate represents his future reward as Kohen Gadol. Because Aharon stood strong in this test of jealousy of his younger brother, he merited the elevation from the level of "Levi" to "Kohen" and even "Kohen Gadol" and that his descendants will be Kohanim in the Bet HaMikdash.
From this we learn an invaluable lesson. A person who works on his Middot and educates himself to always desire good for his brethren, and even rejoice in their happiness even though his own position is threatened, will not only retain his status but will also merit a better suited role.
There were others on a high spiritual plane in Am Yisrael who might have attained this position. It could have been the brave Nahshon, or maybe Yehoshua who might have been appointed Kohanim. Yet, it was Aharon who merited it because of the character development that he developed over years to rejoice in the happiness of his fellowman without any jealousy what-so-ever.
The Mishna in Pirke Abot says that there are three crowns: the Crown of Torah, the Crown of Priesthood, and the Crown of Kingdom. The Crown of Priesthood was given to Aharon, the Crown of Kingdom was given to Yehudah, but the Crown of Torah is available to anyone who desires to do what it takes to obtain it.
Let's invest a little in character development to receive much more in return in this world and in the next.
Nov 13 2019
Heshvan 15 5780