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   by Jacob Solomon

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And you (Moses) bring Aaron… and his sons with him - to be priests to me (in the Tabernacle) (28:1).

The Parasha opens with the sacred oil, and the details of the garments worn by the high priest and regular priests in the Tabernacle and (following the commentaries) later on in the Temple.

The priests were to officiate daily in the Temple service, a 'place of appointment' between G-d and the people (29:43). The commentators state the reason that this privilege went to Moses' brother, Aaron rather than to Moses himself. It was because it was Aaron that acted as a spokesman for his people during their sufferings in Egypt. As Moses put it to G-d: 'I am not a man of words… for I speak heavily and with difficulty' (4:10). Therefore Moses did the instructing and Aaron did the speaking (7:2).

The commentators also note that Moses' name does not appear in this Parasha, and suggest various reasons. The simple explanation, however, appears to be that there is no obvious reason why it should. The command to build the Tabernacles according to 'the specifications as you (Moses) were shown on the mountain' (26:30) is introduced in the previous parasha with 'G-d spoke to Moses…' (25:1), which is followed by the detailed specifications of each Tabernacle-item, opening with 'You shall make…' This line continues in this week's parasha, on the same topic, in the same vein.

What does appear more remarkable is that G-d does not address Himself directly to Aaron. After all, Aaron, together with his descendants, served in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, day by day. Moses had one function - to lead the people. Aaron had another - connecting the people with the Creator through the divine service in the Tabernacle. Indeed this 'division of state and religion' was a permanent feature until the Hasmonean kings who combined both and were ultimately to lead the Jews to disaster, locking them deeply into the Roman Empire.

The reason may be as follows. Aaron does not receive a direct communication here, because the Torah wishes to stress the continuing unity between Moses and Aaron. In contrast with the sibling rivalry between Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers, Moses and Aaron - the founders of the Israelites going from a family to a nation - worked together, and they were pleased to do so. As the Torah records on Moses' return to Egypt: 'Aaron is coming to meet you and will be happy when he sees you' (4:14), and before the Ten Plagues: 'Those who spoke to Pharaoh were Moses and Aaron' (6:27).

Indeed, 'How good it is for brothers to live in unity!' (Psalms 133:1) is followed with a simile that includes a direct reference to Aaron himself.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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