This week's parsha begins with, "áÌÀäÇòÂìÉúÀêÈ àÆú äÇðÌÅøÉú..." – "When you ascend to kindle the lights…" Our sages learned from this that there were steps on which the kohen stood and kindled the lights (Rashi). Let us understand, why is the Menorah different than the outer Mizbe'ach about which it says, "You shall not ascend My Altar on steps, so that your nakedness will not be uncovered upon it?"
Aharon Is Not Partaking In the Dedication…
Rashi says, "Why does the parsha of the Menorah follow right after the parsha of the offerings of the nesi'im? Because when Aharon saw the Chanukas Hanesi'im, the dedication of the nesi’im, he felt distressed because neither he nor his tribe took part together with them in the dedication. So Hashem said to him, by your life! Your part is of greater importance than theirs, for you will kindle and prepare the Menorah."
The Shach explains that when Aharon saw that he and his tribe did not bring an offering, he thought, perhaps his sin of having a part in the making of the golden calf hasn't been atoned for yet, and therefore Hashem did not put the idea into his mind to bring an offering; just like He put into the mind of each one of the tribes' leaders. As we see that they all brought the same offerings without knowing what the others were going to bring, because Hashem put this into their minds, but not into the mind of the Aharon the leader of Shevet Levi, and Aharon thought this was because of his sin.
Hashem's Secret To Moshe…
Let us first understand the pasuk that is in between these two sections, the last pasuk in last week's parsha. "åÌáÀáÉà îÉùÑÆä àÆì àÉäÆì îåÉòÅã ìÀãÇáÌÅø àÄúÌåÉ åÇéÌÄùÑÀîÇò àÆú äÇ÷ÌåÉì îÄãÌÇáÌÅø àÅìÈéå îÅòÇì äÇëÌÇôÌÉøÆú àÂùÑÆø òÇì àÂøÉï äÈòÅãËú îÄáÌÅéï ùÑÀðÅé äÇëÌÀøËáÄéí åÇéÀãÇáÌÅø àÅìÈéå", "When Moshe arrived at Ohel Moed to speak with Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him from atop the Cover that was upon the Aron Ha'edus, from between the two Keruvim, and He spoke to him." Why is this pasuk separating these two sections?
Hashem would speak to Moshe in the Holy of Holies from in between the two Keruvim – secrets of which only very little he would reveal to the nation, and remaining secrets he would tell only to Yehoshua, as it says, "And recite it in the ears of Yehoshua." The reason being that these secrets should be passed down from leader to leader and the secrets will be revealed throughout the generations. Like the Sifri says (Va'eschanan 8), "áÌÀëÈì éåÉí éÄäÀéåÌ áÌÀòÅéðÆéêÈ ëÌÇçÂãÈùÑÄéí" – every day [and certainly every generation,] you must feel the Torah as new.
New Secrets In Every Generation…
If all the secrets were revealed in the generation of Moshe, in later generations there would be no enthusiasm to those ideas, since people would feel that they are old ideas with no novelty to them. And the Gemara (Chulin 7) says about the chidushim that the righteous teach in every generation, "His ancestors left over room through which to achieve prominence." Thus everything was revealed to the sages of the earlier generations, but it remained as a secret which they could not reveal, but had to leave them for Torah scholars in later generations to reveal. So, Moshe knew all that will happen in all later generations; who their leaders will be and what new rules the sages will decree. They all were taught initially to Moshe but weren't revealed until the right time for them to be revealed.
Why Did Hashem Speak Only From Between the Keruvim?
Now, after all the leaders of the tribes brought their offerings and Aharon stood embarrassed to see that his own tribe was not amongst them; Hashem called Moshe and spoke to him from in between the two Keruvim – only through there – to show that Hashem's revelation is only due to Moshe and Aharon's unity – similar to the Keruvim, loving each other and involved in Torah together. Like the Gemara (Eruvin 54b) says, "What was the order of teaching? Moshe learned from the mouth of the Almighty, Aharon entered and Moshe taught him this lesson…"
And Hashem told Moshe to tell this to Aharon, that Moshe merits the revelation of Hashem only because of him. The pasuk repeats, "åÇéÌÄùÑÀîÇò àÆú äÇ÷ÌåÉì îÄãÌÇáÌÅø àÅìÈéå", and then again "åÇéÀãÇáÌÅø àÅìÈéå", why? Because it was now – after Aharon's distress – that Hashem wanted to tell Moshe the following: "Tell Aharon that you are both equal in my eyes, like these two Keruvim that are connected to each other; and only because you are united and connected you have the privilege of my revelation in between the Keruvim."
A Greater Pleasure To Hashem Than a Korban…
Moshe delivered this message to Aharon and added that it is for his good that Hashem did not put into his mind to bring an offering with the rest of the Nesi'im – so that this should bring him to have "ìÅá ðÄùÑÀáÌÈø", a broken heart, and kindle the Menorah with much humility. This is because Hashem does not desire only the physical acts, Hashem's pleasure is the broken heart and humility of the one bringing the offering. Like David said in the Tehilim (51), "ëÌÄé ìÉà úÇçÀôÌÉõ æÆáÇç åÀàÆúÌÅðÈä òåÉìÈä ìÉà úÄøÀöÆä. æÄáÀçÅé àÁìÉ÷Äéí øåÌçÇ ðÄùÑÀáÌÈøÈä ìÅá ðÄùÑÀáÌÈø åÀðÄãÀëÌÆä àÁìÉ÷Äéí ìÉà úÄáÀæÆä", "For You do not desire a sacrifice, else I would give it; a burnt offering You do not want. The sacrifices G-d desires are a broken spirit; a heart broken and humbled, O G-d, You will not despise."
Only now, when Aharon's heart was broken, he could receive Hashem's command, "áÌÀäÇòÂìÉúÀêÈ àÆú äÇðÌÅøÉú" – you are meriting the service of kindling the Menorah which is much greater than all other services. "Your part is of greater importance than theirs." Now, why is it greater than the rest? Doesn’t the work of korbanos have many more mitzvos than kindling the Menorah; it has slaughtering, sprinkling the blood, offering the limbs and organs etc.?!
The Menorah is an Indication for Other Services…
However, since the work of korbanos looks like a physical task and even the service of the incense was done with a combination of spices which is also a physical task; but the service of kindling the Menorah is clearly completely spiritual, and this comes to show that all other services are also completely spiritual, and people should not make any mistake to think otherwise.
As the Gemara (Shabbos 22b) says about the Menorah, "òÅãåÌú äÄéà ùÑÆäÇùÌÑÀëÄéðÈä ùÑåÉøÈä áÌÀéÄùÒÀøÈàÅì" – meaning, the Menorah is an indication that all other services done in the Mishkan – even those that involve physical work – are thoroughly spiritual. And this is "áÌÀäÇòÂìÉúÀêÈ àÆú äÇðÌÅøÉú" – that through this, Aharon will elevate the value of the services in the eyes of the nation.
The True Purpose of the Korban…
So, why did Hashem not put the idea of bringing an offering in Aharon’s mind just like the rest of the leaders of the tribes?!
At the time of Yetzi'as Mitzraim, Am Yisrael were commanded to offer the Korban Pesach and to smear its blood on their doorposts. Moshe taught them to have in mind when they smear the blood, to thank Hashem and appreciate His mercy that he saved their blood from being spilled by the Egyptians. So too, at Mount Sinai Moshe offered sacrifices and sprinkled their blood on the nation; he taught them to have gratitude to Hashem for the kindness of their own blood and organs – through observing the animal's blood and organs.
Does a Korban Have Power???
However, the Erev Rav among the people didn't like this type of service of Hashem – dealing with the offering's blood and organs. They claimed that it is a not respectful physical task and improper to do in front of Hashem. And therefore, when they thought it was past the time that Moshe was supposed to descend, they made a golden calf. Because they thought that an animal has a special power to atone for sins and assist a person; but they didn't want to use a materialistic thing like an animal's body, rather they decided to use gold that seems more spiritual, and isn't repulsive but pretty and elegant. This was their mistaken attitude towards the korbanos, and they mocked the offering of korbanos’ blood and organs – the way Moshe was taught by Hashem.
Hashem Enjoys the Dealing with Flesh and Blood…
To show the nation this mistake, Hashem concealed from Aharon the idea of bringing an offering with the rest of the nesi’im, which seemed to be a punishment for Aharon’s part in the sin of the golden calf, because people thought that Aharon took part in it and he also had their mistaken opinion about the korbanos. So, by Hashem concealing this idea from Aharon, it taught the people that a korban without dealing with its blood and organs – and through it to come to appreciate these kindnesses in our bodies – is not accepted before Hashem. This dealing with the physical flesh and blood brings the most pleasure to Hashem, because they cause us to have gratitude to Him.
With this, Aharon, who was like a mother of Am Yisrael, cleaned off the filth of the sin of the golden calf from the nation. Like the Midrash (Bamidbar 19:2) says, "úÌÈáÉà äÈàÅí åÌúÀ÷ÇðÌÇç öÉàÇú áÌÀðÈäÌ" – "May the mother come and clean her son's filth." Because now they all understood their great mistake when they thought of the work of the korbanos as merely physical task. And when Aharon kindled the Menorah, it showed that all the services done in the Mishkan were spiritual deeds.
Why Only the Menorah Had Steps???
The Gemara in Menachos (29a) says that it was difficult for Moshe to understand the work of the Menorah. That is, he didn't understand why it is more important in the eyes of Hashem than all the other types of service. What we said previously is one answer to the question: Because the service of the Menorah comes to show that all other services in the Mishkan are just as spiritual as it.
Another answer to this is: The Menorah signifies humility and therefore had steps – to make Aharon feel humble that he had to climb steps to kindle the Menorah – which is not dignified, as we find by the Mizbeach that had no steps, to maintain the dignity of the Kohanim [and they shouldn’t be exposed]. The Tiferes Yehonasan (Bamidbar 8) states, that Aharon was as tall as Moshe – ten amos, that means he had to climb the steps although he had to bend down to kindle the Menorah. The Panim Yafos writes that only the Kohen Gadol had to climb the steps for kindling the Menorah, but not an ordinary Kohen. And this humility was Aharon's greatness.
You Need Your Fellow Jew…
After all the lessons above, the Torah commands the sanctification of the Leviim and the sacrifices brought together with it; so that the Leviim serve alongside the Kohanim, helping them with the service. This was commanded after the previous lessons, in order that the Leviim learn the importance of these lessons: Humility, the value of a broken heart, the importance of physical aspects of the sacrifices, and most importantly the brotherhood they must have just like Moshe and Aharon, and the two Keruvim.
Even the greatest tzadik cannot succeed alone. As the Gemara (Taanis 7a) says, "What is which is written, "A sword against the sorcerers [habadim], and they shall become fools?" There is a sword upon the enemies of Torah scholars [i.e. Torah scholars themselves], who sit and study Torah alone; and not only that, but they grow foolish." The word badim hints for the carrying poles of the Aron Habris, on which the Keruvim were. This teaches that Torah scholars must learn with a partner, and they should always be caring for their fellowmen.
The Kohanim Need the Leviim's Service…
Just like Moshe needed Aharon; so too, Aharon needed all his tribe, and therefore was commanded by Hashem to lift them up, tenufah – to show how much he appreciates them and how much he needs them. Thus showing that all his descendants, the Kohanim, will need the Leviim too, to accompany them in their service in the Beis Hamikdash and do the service singing during the Kohanim’s service. The service of the Kohanim has not value without the service of the Leviim, and also the Leviim's service alone is not worth anything.
We all need to learn from this, that anyone, even if he thinks he's very wise in Torah or other matters; cannot succeed alone, he must have others' help – so that he be humble. This is how Hashem created the world, in a way that everybody always needs the help of their fellowmen. Like David said to the nation (Berachos 3b), "Go and sustain one another." He taught everyone to have a good eye on the other, because they need one another.
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