January 16, 2021   ✦   3 Sh'vat, 5781   ✦   Torah Portion: Vaera, Exodus 6:2-9:35   ✦   Haftorah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21

Posted on January 1, 2020 (5780) By Yaakov Sterling | Series: | Level:

Va’eira

(הוא אהרן ומשה אשר אמר ה’ להם הוציאו את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים על צבאתם” (שמות ו:כו”

“This was the Aharon and Moshe to whom Hashem said: `Take bnei Yisrael out of Egypt according to their legions’” (Shemos 6:26)

Rashi– “`This was the Aharon and Moshe . . .’ who are mentioned above [v. 20], whom Yocheved bore to Amram, [these two] are [the same] Aharon and Moses to whom Hashem said, etc. In some places, [the Torah] places Aharon before Moshe, and in other places it places Moshe before Aharon, to tell us that they were equal” — [1]

 

The Kli Yakar comments as follows: “`This was the Aharon and Moshe . . .'[2] `This was the Moshe and Aharon . . .'[3] In their main mission [of freeing bnei Yisrael from slavery in Egypt, taking them out of Egypt, bringing them to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah and bringing them to Eretz Yisrael] I might have surmised that Moshe played the dominate role and Aharon the subordinate one. After all, Hashem spoke only to Moshe at the burning bush of Mt. Chorev[4] and not to Aharon. Through the Torah placing Aharon’s name before Moshe’s, it emphasizes to us that they shared equally the credit for this unsurpassed accomplishment. On the other hand, as far as negotiating with Pharaoh to release the children of Yisrael so they could serve Hashem, it would stand to reason that Aharon played the dominate role and Moshe the subordinate one since from birth Moshe suffered from a speech impediment.  In order for us not to harbor such a misconception, the Torah writes, `They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to take the children of Yisrael out of the land of Egypt; this was the Moshe and Aharon.’ Through the Torah placing Moshe’s name before that of Aharon’s, it emphasizes that also in regard to negotiating with Pharaoh the two brothers were equal. Accordingly, the Torah goes out of its way to teach us that they were equal in everything.”

Each of the two brothers, Moshe and Aharon, applied both the innate characteristics and attributes that Hashem had bestowed to each one and their hard-earned acquired qualities, and together, cooperating fully, functioned as His loyal agents in breaking Pharaoh’s spirit and attaining their goal.

Actually, in all interaction with others, cooperation is invariably preferable to competition. What then is the purpose of competition? Through overpowering the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, which drives a person relentlessly to compete and strive to surpass others, and instead cooperating and working together for a common goal or purpose, man is divinely rewarded. Siblings quarrel frequently, and in my opinion in more than 90% of the cases, the source of this bickering is their almost uncontainable desire to compete, to win an advantage over the other. The solution to their numerous misunderstandings is cooperating with each other, to join forces. The same is true with disruptive situations among couples. If the spouses would cooperate with one another with the vision of reaching their common goals and aspirations, rather than competing with one another to gain the upper hand, they would surely live much more peaceful and enjoyable lives.

Rebbe Moshe Feinstein zt’l writes that Moshe and Aharon were comparable in two ways:  (1) Their full cooperation was indispensable for the success of their objective. Doubtless there were some aspects in which Moshe was superior to his brother, but the qualities of both brothers were absolutely required to obtain their goal. (2) Aharon reached the pinnacle of his potential just as Moshe. Only through their absolute cooperation could each one independently reach this transcendent spiritual level.

It is very possible that at the root of every purposeful sin is a deep inner feeling of being in competition with Hashem, as opposed to wanting to cooperate with Hashem. When a person fulfills a mitzvah he is cooperating with Hashem on the highest level possible because he is participating with Hashem in building the world based on the invaluable gift of Torah that Hashem bestowed on the Jewish Nation. It appears to me that a person who chooses to transgress a sin believes, at a certain level of his consciousness, that he knows better than Hashem what is the proper thing to do. In other words, he is competing with Hashem with regard to “who knows best how I should act at this moment.”

* * *

A Chassidic couple could not reach an agreement concerning the level of spirituality they should maintain in their home. They disagreed on numerous issues. For example, he insisted on using a kosher-type cell phone rather than a certified kosher one. She argued that their Rebbe demanded from his Chassidim that a family possess only a 100% kosher phone without any possibility to hear improper matters or see immodest pictures. The husband countered that after inserting a kosher Sim the only difference between the two types of cell phones is that the kosher-style one contains a digital camera and an MP3 player. Surely the Rebbe does not mind that, so why is she making such a fuss?

They were clearly locked in a head-to-head competition regarding who would win out in this and similar cases. This naturally led to a severe domestic dilemma.

Through counseling, they eventually both understood that building a solid, stable and happy Jewish home was only possible through sincere cooperation and mutual understanding. The right path then became clear and desirable to both of them, and each matter was resolved through mutually agreeable resolutions.

Though they moved to a far-off city and therefore discontinued couples therapy, I was overjoyed to receive a Mishloach Manot (Purim package of goodies) from them a couple of years later, which the husband delivered personally himself to my door. I’ve also received several phone calls over the years with wonderful reports on how they are doing. I really learned from them the power of a cooperative attitude and how it can bring closeness to two people who start out having seemingly irreconcilable opposing attitudes and beliefs on a wide variety of subjects.

 

[1] Mechilta 7:1 [2] Shemos 6:26 [3] Ibid, Ibid 27 [4] Shemos 3:1-22