Dear B’nai Shalom members, friends, and families:
Even as we brave the cold temperatures and do our best to tolerate what a typical Chicago winter brings us, we continue to learn, study, and engage ourselves in the pursuit and love of Torah.
I share the following thought, based on the recent and upcoming parshiyot (Torah portions) in which the story of B’nai Yisrael (the Children of Israel) were enslaved, persecuted, saved, and taken out of the Land of Egypt and brought to the Wilderness of Sinai where they/we were blessed to receive the ultimate gift from Hashem, G-d’s doctrine for enhanced living: His Torah of truth.
Throughout the story of our redemption, there is no doubt that the “star” of the entire episode is Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses, the Lawgiver, who demonstrates remarkable characteristics of self-sacrifice, compassion, leadership, wisdom, and a never-failing sense of devotion to the B’nai Yisrael, the Children of Israel.
However, and certainly NOT intending to take away any credit or praise for the goodness and exemplary traits of the greatest leader of B’nai Yisrael ever, there appears to be an ADDITIONAL hero, a much more understated, slightly covert, subtle leader, but one whose accomplishments are outstanding and without which, the saga of the salvation of B’nai Yisrael would not emerge the same.
I am referring to the older brother of Moshe Rabbeinu: Aharon HaKohen, – Aaron, the brother of Moshe, who, while remaining somewhat in the “shadow” of his younger, more conspicuously-depicted brother, is no less responsible for the ultimate salvation and success of the Exodus from Egypt.
In all of our experiences, we can recall famous pairings, in which a more overt personality is complemented by a slightly less public persona, but in each case, the end result of high achievement is only accomplished through the collaborative, confluent efforts of the pair.
The following names may come to mind as examples of greatness in a myriad of fields of triumphant deeds: Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig; Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen; Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris; Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein; George Burns & Gracie Allen.
Moshe Rabbeinu and his brother: Aharon HaKohen served the B’nai Yisrael magnificently with Moshe taking the lead and effectively emerging as the holy conduit between Hashem and the B’nai Yisrael while Aharon made great use of his depicted compassion and empathy, demonstrating his skills as a “man among the people,” who, according to our tradition, was the ultimate individual who was… “Oheiv shalom, rodeif shalom”, a “lover of peace, and a pursuer of peace.”
Aharon’s place in the story of our redemption is clear but somewhat relegated to the “back story” as time after time, Aharon consistently allowed the stellar feats of greatness of his brother to overshadow his own G-d-given talents and skills. Aharon’s role in the story of our redemption is a prime example of people “making a splash” in the most quiet and less conspicuous manner but still having an important and integral place in the way we conduct our lives in ongoing attempts to make the world a better place for all of us.
We see evidence of the significant function that Aharon filled in his approach to touching and impacting the individuals of the B’nai Yisrael. When the Torah speaks of the death of Moshe, we are told that B’nai Yisrael cried for the passing of Moses. However, at the telling of the death of Aharon, we are told that the “entire congregation of Israel” cried for the passing of Aharon. We take from this depiction that Children of Israel took Aharon to their hearts and found a special connection to Moses’ older brother that they may not have felt emotionally for the far more famous and accomplished YOUNGER brother: Moshe.
And of course, the “moral of the story” for us is that we can, in many ways not necessarily loud, flashy, or flamboyant, work to assist others, accomplish great feats, and make a difference in the lives of those around us, without being the center of attention at all times, or even at any time.
With Torah blessings always,
Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Dvorin