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Parshas Acharei 5757 - '97

Outline # 33

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

This issue is dedicated to the Garfunkel family of Savannah, Georgia, whose love of Torah, true to the family tradition, continually expands and embraces.

Death and Reproof

"Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon's two sons, when they came close before Hashem... `Speak to Aharon your brother... he should not come any time to the Holy... that he might not die... because in the cloud I appear on the Ark-cover...' "

The Noam M'gadim explains a hidden relationship between this parsha and parshas B'ha'aloscha. (Bamidbar beginning of chapter 12) There, Aharon and Miriam challenge Moshe's authority. The Torah describes Moshe's extreme humility, and G-d Himself defends Moshe.

"When you will have prophets, I will appear to them in a vision or dream... not so Moshe -- mouth to mouth I speak with him... Why were you not afraid to speak against My servant?" (Bamidbar 12:6-8)

We wrote about Moshe's humility last year, in parshas B'ha'aloscha -- that Moshe did not even answer the personal challenge. The Noam M'gadim, however, points out an additional angle. Aharon and Miriam were comparing themselves to the greatness of Moshe: "Does Hashem speak only with Moshe? He speaks with us as well..." (Bamidbar 12:2) Their behavior, in comparing themselves with the greatest prophet, is in stark contrast with Moshe, who offers no comparisons.

The praise of Moshe is that he saw himself as unworthy; they, however, saw themselves as worthy. Hashem answered that Moshe was the greatest prophet because -- as illustrated by the same incident -- other prophets could not match Moshe's humility.

Hashem fulfills the degree of the Tzadik (exceptionally righteous person). Moshe realized that Aharon and his family were endangered because Aharon had allowed the Jews to build the Golden Calf. Moshe therefore davened on their behalf -- but to his dismay, only part of his prayer was answered. Two of Aharon's sons died. Moshe felt that he was not the type of Tzadik who could make decrees for G-d. Hashem's response: No, indeed you are beloved; but Aharon's sons have died for another reason... because they came close before Hashem...

" `Tell Aharon that he may not enter the Holy whenever he so desires; in the cloud I appear on the Ark-cover...' " The Hebrew for `cloud' is `anon.' The Hebrew for `humble' is `anov.' I only appear to the humble. This was a reproof for Aharon and his family that they not try to compare themselves with Moshe, which is a haughty manner; it is only through Moshe's humility that he became so great!

The Chodshei Hashanah Series continues next week with another look at the days of the Omer and the Jewish calendar system.

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
1 Babbin Court
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: 914-425-3565
Fax: 914-425-4296

Good Shabbos!



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