Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Chukat
קטגוריה משנית
To dedicate this lesson
"And Ahron died and the king of Canaan heard and went to war against Israel." The Gemara (RH) connects these two seemingly disparate events in our Sedra: As long as Ahron was alive, the Clouds of Glory protected us like an invisible shield; with his death, the clouds dissipated & we were vulnerable to attack. Let’s take a deeper look at this.

Ahron’s great talent was making peace between people, particularly those at odds with one another. He was able to succeed at this because he, like Moshe, was extremely humble & did not consider himself better than anyone else. This is exemplified by his selfless acceptance of Moshe, his younger brother, as leader of the nation.

The protective clouds provided in his honor are called Ananei HaKavod; literally, the clouds of honor. By teaching others to honor their fellow man, Ahron was instrumental in creating a beautiful, holy environment that was loved & safeguarded by G-d. (Note that Rabbi Akiva’s students died for not giving kavod to one other).

But when Ahron died, the great role model of bein adam l’chavero (harmony between people) was gone, & the peoples’ respect for each other went into decline. This led to strife & machloket, & eventually war. And so, our Parsha - sadly but perfectly - fits the pattern of dissension running through the complainers of B’ha’alotcha, the slanderous spies of Shlach & the rebellion of Korach.

The lesson offered here should be painfully obvious to us. We are caught up in a worldwide vortex of Jew/Israel hatred (which, of course, are one & the same) that may lead to violence & G-d forbid, war. Where it will all end up, only Hashem knows, but where it begins is clear as day: it begins with Jew vs. Jew disrespect.

Now, the fact that we argue with each other is not necessarily or inherently destructive. After all, the Gemara is all about argument & staking out different positions in order to arrive at the ultimate Truth.

But how do we argue with each other?! Do we honor & give credence to the others position, or do we dismiss it out of hand? Do we accept that there may be more than one way of looking at things, or do we insist that ours is the only opinion that is even worth considering?

The Sages tell us the reason Halacha generally follows Bet Hillel & not Bet Shamai is that Bet Hillel always considered the views of Bet Shamai before expressing its own. It was truly a "Torat Ahron," & one we should diligently pursue today - before it’s too late.
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