Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Tzav
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Berel Wein

The entire book of Vayikra is described in rabbinic literature as Torat Kohanim – the laws, instructions, rituals and duties of Aharon and his sons, the founders of the priestly family of Israel. In this week’s Torah reading, Moshe is instructed to command Aharon regarding the daily sacrifices to be offered in the Mishkan/Tabernacle and the keeping of eternal fire that always was to be present on the holy altar. Aharon and his sons were chosen for special status and dutiful service on behalf of Israel and the Creator. The question arises, why was Aharon and his family and descendants so chosen? We will find later in the Torah that Moshe will be accused of nepotism regarding his choice of his brother and nephews as being the priestly clan of Israel. The Torah itself advances no explanation for the role of the priests in Jewish life and Temple service. It also does not disclose any reason or motive for the choice of Aharon and his family to serve in an exclusive fashion as these priests and officiants in the services of the Mishkan/Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. However, almost in a passing note in his commentary to the Torah reading of Tetzaveh, Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra states that Aharon was chosen, not so much for his own merit, so to speak, but rather because he married Elisheva, the sister of Nachshon and thus became part of that family and the merits of that family were absorbed by him and made him the most fitting candidate for becoming the High Priest of Israel.

Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra never disappoints in his original and intuitive interpretations of the Torah. Nachshon is the symbol of personal risk and sacrifice on behalf of the survival of the Jewish people. Tradition has him jumping into Yam Suf before the waters split in order to enable the Jewish people to escape the slavery of Pharaoh and their ultimate annihilation. Nachshon will be the leader of the tribe of Judah,, arguably the most important of the tribes of Israel and he will be the first of the leaders of the tribes to bring a voluntary offering and gift to the Mishkan/Tabernacle on the day of its dedication and consecration. It is this trait of sacrifice and public service that is most obviously necessary for the role of being the High Priest of Israel and safeguarding the Temple service for all generations. Aharon requires the example and influence of Nachshon in order to fulfill his own vital role in Jewish life. Moshe is able to command Aharon as to the obligations incumbent upon him in the performance of his duties as the High Priest of Israel due to the spirit of public sacrifice imbued within him by the merit of being part of the family of Nachshon. This is truly a remarkable insight and teaches us how important apparently extraneous issues and matters such as family relations are really vital to our lives and to the roles that the Lord has chosen for us to fulfill in Jewish public life. We should never minimize the importance of our influence, even in an indirect fashion, upon others and upon the course of Jewish society.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר