The pasuk in Parshas Tezaveh says: “And you, bring near to yourself Aharon your brother, and his sons with him, from the midst of the Children of Israel, so that he shall be a Kohen to me – Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, Elazar and Isamar the sons of Aharon.” [Shemos 28:1]. I heard a thought on a tape from Rav Isaac Bernstein linking this pasuk with a very novel teaching of the Dubno Maggid.
Rav Bernstein is bothered – what does the pasuk mean when it says “You should take Aharon your brother and his sons with him FROM THE MIDST (mi’toch) BNEI YISRAEL“? The words “Mi’toch Bnei Yisrael” seem superfluous. Obviously, Kohanim will not be taken from a different nation! Is there then some kind of message that the Torah is trying to convey with these words?
The Dubno Maggid says a mind-boggling idea.
The Talmud teaches [Rosh HaShannah 25B] that Yiftach in his generation was like Shmuel in his generation. The Shofet Yiftach is a very enigmatic Biblical personality. He was not what we would call the greatest man who ever walked the face of the earth. He certainly was not anywhere near the caliber of the prophet Shmuel. Shmuel haNavi stands out in a Tanach full of great people as one of the dominant personalities of Jewish history. When Chazal say that Yiftach in his generation was like Shmuel in his generation, they are trying to convey that Yiftach was not on the level of a Shmuel, but every generation must live with the leader it has. Therefore, the people living in Yiftach’s generation had to give him the same honor and deference as if he was a Shmuel haNavi.
This is the simple interpretation of this gemara in Maseches Rosh HaShannah. The Dubno Maggid quotes a Medrash in Koheles (which I could not find in any Medrash on my computer database, but the Dubno Maggid is greater than any computer – so I am not questioning the authenticity of his source). According to this Medrash the intent of the Talmudic passage is the reverse: Had Shmuel lived in the generation of Yiftach, he would not have been considered to be anything special. This is mind-boggling, because we see in the story of Yiftach that Yiftach made some terrible mistakes in his life.
The Dubno Maggid explains that the Medrash does not mean that Yiftach was greater than Shmuel. Shmuel was far greater than Yiftach and most other people. The Medrash means that every generation needs a leader to whom they can relate. Sometimes, a leader can be TOO BIG for his generation. He could be too far above them and too removed from them to lead them properly. The Dubno Maggid, in his inimitable fashion, gives a parable to explain this:
Just like the clothes a person wears cannot be too small on him, so too the clothes a person wears cannot be too big on him. Someone who is a size 42 who wears a size 56 suit will not be properly dressed! That is the way it is with leaders at well. The leader needs to be appropriate and fit the particular generation he is leading. The Dubno Maggid explains that had Shmuel been in the generation of Yiftach, he would not have been an effective leader because he was too spiritually superior to that generation. The people could not have related to him.
Rav Bernstein suggests that this is perhaps what the pasuk is hinting at in our parsha as well. The pasuk says “And you should take Aharon and his sons… FROM THE MIDST OF BNEI YISRAEL.” The Kohanim need to be the leaders of their generation, consequently they need to come from the midst of the people – individuals whom the people can look up to, and yet relate to. If they are too far above the level of the people, they will not be able to function as role models. “Augh! He is too above us. He is a Malach! We need a human being!”
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Titzaveh is provided below:
- # 045 The Gartel: To Wear or Not to Wear
- # 088 Parshas Zachor and Other Purim Issues
- # 136 Purim Costumes: Anything Goes?
- # 183 Candle Lighting on Friday Night
- # 229 Purim Issues II
- # 273 Taanis Esther and The Personal Purim
- # 319 Conditional Licht Benching
- # 363 The “Mazik” On Purim
- # 407 Hesach Ha’daas and Tefilin
- # 451 How Many Shabbos Candles
- # 495 Reneging on a Tzedaka Pledge
- # 539 Matanos Le’evyonim
- # 583 The Bracha of Blossoming Trees
- # 627 Having Your Own Megilah
- # 670 A Woman’s First Candle Lighting
- # 715 Parsha Zachor More Fascinating Insights
- # 759 Printed Mezuzos?
- # 803 Late for Megillah and Other Purim Issues
- # 847 Teaching Torah to a Potential Ger
- # 891 Women and Sh’lach Manous and Matanos L’evyonim
- # 935 Purim Seudah – Is Bread Necessary?
- # 978 Shedding Light on Ba’meh Madlikin
- #1022 Can the Rabbi/Chazan/Rosh Hayeshiva Give His Position To His Son?
- #1066 Sending Sh’lach Manos, With A Questionable Hechsher
- #1109 Should Women Wear A Yamulka?
- #1152 Hashkama Minyan That Heard Parshas Zachor From A Pasul Sefer Torah
- #1195 Matonos Le’ev’yonim: How Much? To Whom? When? Women?
- #1239 The Case of the Woman Who Slept Through Licht Bentching Friday Night
- #1284 Parshas Zachor: Should You Read Along with the Baal Koreh & Other Zachor Issues
- #1326 Wearing A Gartel? Are the Chasidim Right?
- #1415 The Shul That Wanted to Ban Making Noise When Haman’s Name Is Mentioned
- #1459 Can a Woman Do Melacha After She Lights the Shabbos Candles?
A complete catalogue can be ordered from the Yad Yechiel Institute, PO Box 511, Owings Mills MD 21117-0511. Call (410) 358-0416 or e-mail [email protected] or visit http://www.yadyechiel.org/ for further information.