Aharon And The Princes

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Aharon and the Princes

The part of the  תורהread throughout the eight days of חנוכה deals with the gifts given by the נשאים, the first ones to do so at the time of the חנוכת המזבח. Immediately following this we find ה' commanding אהרן to light the מנורה in the משכן. רש"י asks why the part concerning the מנורה is placed in juxtaposition to the part concerning the נשאים. He answers that when Aharon saw the dedication acts of the נשאים he became dejected and downhearted because neither he nor his שבט were included in this act. But to this, ה' tells אהרן that in truth his part is greater – to light and tend the מנורה.

רמב"ן explains this מדרש to mean that when אהרן was disappointed, ה' assured him there will be anotherחנוכה , in which lighting of the מנורה will take place by his grandchildren, the חשמונאים. This allusion to the future ניסים and victories through his descendants was to be אהרן’s consolation.  Rabbi M. Miller asks two questions on this מדרש. Who, in fact, asked the נשאים to offer their gifts? The answer is, of course, that they were not commanded to do so at all, but brought them purely as a נדבה. If this is the case, then how can אהרן’s disappointment be justified? He could blame no one but himself for his failure to donate to the dedication. 


            Rabbi M. Miller answers with the help of רש"י. Let’s take a look at the נשאים. רש"י  explains that at the time of the construction of the משכן, they did not take the initiative to donate to the משכן, but rather, they were content to wait and supply whatever was lacking. However, as the משכן neared completion the only thing that was left for the נשאים to donate were the two אבני שוהם. The נשאים effectively “learnt their lesson” and when the time came to donate again for the חנוכת המזבח, they were extremely anxious to be the very first to give gifts and offer קרבנות. משה, on the other hand, was unwilling to accept their offerings, on account that they had not been asked to make them at all and he felt it arrogant to offer קרבנות to ה' without waiting for a request. Yet, ה' did accept their קרבנות because he recognized that their arrogance is only out of their love of עבודת ה'.

Now let’s take a look at אהרן. רש"י explains that during the first week of the חנוכת המשכן, אהרן was ashamed and fearful to approach the מזבח to offer קרבנות for himself and the עם. משה then rebukes him, reminding him that this was the job he was chosen for. The Arizal further points out that אהרן’s feelings of shame and inhibition are what caused ה' to desire his service and love him.

            The most striking distinction between the attitudes of the נשאים and אהרן now become clear – arrogance and shame! The נשאים wished so strongly to give קרבנות that they took the initiative to do so, even without being asked. Although it was אהרן’s natural reservation that had prevented him from participating in this occasion, when he saw that ה' actually accepted the voluntary gifts of the נשאים, a sense of down-heartedness overcame him.  At this point ה' offered the assurance of future rectification.  

            The חשמונאים embarked upon a battle against the entire nation of Syrian-Greeks. They were willing to show characteristics of strength and vigour in a situation so bold to make such an attempt. From where did they draw such arrogance to take on such a feat?

Indeed, this is the characteristic of the נשאים, displayed by their determination to give קרבנות. It was the lack of this quality that אהרן mourned in himself. (Even though his natural reserve and shame are two attributes praiseworthy in themselves.)

            We are now able to understand more clearly the consolation offered to אהרן (explanation of רמב"ן). He was promised that the time would come when his descendants would demonstrate the exact virtue, which had been lacking in him.  The חשמונאים, armed with nothing more than their dedication and devotion to עבודת ה', were able to overcome the might of thousands of troops.

 Our desire to perform ה'’s מצוות should be as enthusiastic and strong.

By: Sara Yeres









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