Parshat Tetzaveh - 5761
"HaKohen," the Priest
Tetzaveh describes the Priestly garments that had to be worn by the "Kohanim,"
when they performed the "Avodah," the Divine Worship Service.
This Service was to be performed first in the Tabernacle, the
Portable Temple, and later in the "Beit
HaMikdash," the Holy Temple, that was meant not to be moved, that
stood in Jerusalem until it was destroyed twice by our enemies, and rebuilt
once. It is for its second
rebuilding that we are eagerly awaiting.
Who are the "Kohanim?"
designation of the "Kohanim," the Priests, underwent two
transitions - first, from the "bechorim,"
the first-born, who were "supposed to have been" both Kings and
Priests, to the Tribe of Levi
in the person of Moshe, then from the sons of Moshe to the sons of Aharon,
who became the "Kohen Gadol," the High Priest.
Who was Aharon?
introduced to Aharon by the Torah in the unusual dialogue that took place
between Moshe and HaShem
at the Burning Bush. HaShem
wants Moshe to be His messenger in taking the Jewish People out of Egypt,
and he wants Moshe to be their King and High Priest. Moshe repeatedly protests that he is incapable of fulfilling
the job as spokesperson for the People of Israel to Pharaoh.
So HaShem, according to the Midrash, switches the roles of Moshe and
Aharon. Moshe will revert to
the status of the Levi, and Aharon will be elevated to the status of "Kohen
Gadol." Now Aharon will serve as spokesperson for the People of Israel
not only to Pharaoh, but he and his descendants will represent the Jewish
People also to HaShem in the "Beit HaMikdash."
But that will come later.
Now we are
discussing the elevation of Moshe to be the leader of Israel. Most brothers, especially older brothers, would resent the
elevation of their younger siblings. So
we have seen in the Torah in several cases: Kayin vs. Hevel, Yishmael vs.
Yitzchak, Esav vs. Yaakov, Yoseph's brothers vs. Yoseph.
But here comes a change - a new creation in the universe of siblings,
one who can overcome sibling rivalry and rejoice in the accomplishments of
their younger sibling. There
are such older brothers in the world.
HaShem introduces this new creation by the term "And I know him,"
when He says, "Do I not know
that he will speak for you, and he will see you (in your glory) and will
rejoice in his heart" (Shemot 4:14).
Whereas Kayin, who murdered Hevel, because HaShem accepted the
sacrifice of his younger brother but not his, denied knowledge of his
brother, "And he said, 'I do not
know (the location of my brother); am I my brother's keeper?' (Bereshit
"Lover of Peace and Pursuer of Peace"
unique talent and capability was his ability to love peace, and to pursue
peace and to restore peace between human beings, who were "supposed
to" have a close, if not loving, relationship, but who had drifted
apart: spouses, parents and children, in-laws, next-door neighbors,
partners, etc., etc. It was for
this ability that Aharon was loved more than was Moshe and for which he was
mourned longer than was Moshe (Yalkut).
Aharon and the "Egel HaZahav," the Golden
played a very enigmatic role at the time that the Jewish People constructed
the Golden Calf. One
interpretation of that event is as follows:
Moshe was on Mt. Sinai and the Jewish People were gathered at the
foot of the mountain. The
"Erev Rav," the small minority of Egyptians who had fled Egypt
with the Jews in order to "be with a winner," and who had been
accepted by Moshe, were agitating
for new leadership, since Moshe was "clearly" not coming down.
Aharon had gathered gold from the People and thrown it into the fire.
"kishuf," the "black magic," that they had brought out
of Egypt, the "Erev Rav" caused a Golden Calf, that
"surprisingly" bore a striking resemblance to the god they had
worshipped in Egypt, to emerge from the fire.
Seeing this, Aharon had wished to divert the People and had called
out, "Tomorrow will be a holiday
unto the L-rd!" (Shemot 32:5), meaning that by the next day, when
Moshe would certainly have returned, the Jewish People would have a
legitimate reason to celebrate.
Yet for his
role in the commission of a sin that was only a sin of "Marit Ayin,"
an act which looked like but really was not a sin, but which thereby created
a "Chilul HaShem," a Desecration
of G-d's Name, Aharon had been found guilty by the "Heavenly
Court." As we find Moshe
saying to the Jewish People, "And
with Aharon did HaShem become very angry,
sufficiently so as to decree that he be destroyed..." (Devarim, 9:20),
which RASHI interprets as the loss of children.
"And Aharon kept silent" (Vayikra, 10:3)
destruction actually took place, at the time that Nadav and Avihu were
consumed by a "fire from HaShem" (Vayikra 10:2), during the time
of the Dedication of the Mishkan, Aharon's response is "VaYidom Aharon,"
"And Aharon kept silent." Accepting
the verdict of the Heavenly Court, without audible protest, Aharon's
response is reminiscent of the "silent, still voice" in which
HaShem revealed Himself to Eliyahu ("Melachim I," 19:12). Along with his other great teachings, Aharon taught the
humility that should be adopted by human beings in the face of unanswerable
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel