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Following Rashi, G-d's directives for the construction of the mishkan including the kohen gadol's garments took place after the sin of the golden calf. Despite Aaron's reluctant involvement with serious consequences, G-d commanded Moses:
You [Moses] bring Aaron your brother near to yourself… to be a priest to Me (28:1).
As Moses' brother, Aaron started out as his subordinate, in the role of his communicator. Preparations were now to be made for Aaron to receive the highest spiritual honor and privilege "to be a priest to Me". For as high priest, he and nobody else was eligible to serve once a year in the Holy of Holies on behalf of the entire Israelite nation (Lev. 16:34). What special qualities did Aaron have to be selected by G-d for this unique office?
The Kli Yakar suggests two reasons. One was because he was Moses' brother. Aaron's honor was Moses' honor. The other was because Aaron "loved peace and pursued peace" (Avot 1:12). Simply explained, as Moses' communicator he was skilled in the gift of persuasion and avoiding confrontation. He knew how to talk to people as human beings, not as units at a public meeting.
The Kli Yakar's first explanation, Aaron's honor was Moses' honor, may be brought out in the following way. Perhaps Aaron was chosen because he advanced the Creation, indeed humanity, in finally rising above the crippling force of sibling rivalry and the distress that it brings. Simply, brothers quarreling. This is a major theme that recurs constantly in the Book of Genesis.
Sibling rivalry saw Cain killing Abel on his finding that only Abel's offering was accepted. Cain was doomed to spend the rest of his life as a vagrant and a wanderer.
Sibling rivalry saw Ishmael expelled from Abraham's household as he spread false rumors about identity of Isaac's parents in order to be the sole inheritor of Abraham's property (Sforno to Gen. 21:9). The sibling rivalry meant that Isaac and Ishmael were permanently separated until Abraham's death (Gen. 25:9).
Sibling rivalry saw Jacob and Esau struggling over the issue of the birthright and the blessing. Here, the separation was shorter and marked with some progress: an apprehensive, uneasy meeting and some reconciliation.
Sibling rivalry was behind Joseph's brothers leaving him for dead, and finally selling him into slavery. More progress here: the brothers indeed regretted the sale and were subsequently fully reconciled with one another.
But in sharp contrast to their antecedents, Moses and Aaron broke through the very core of sibling rivalry. They rose above the force of sibling rivalry by functioning as a joint team to serve others, to set in motion the Exodus of the suffering Israelites in Egypt. Moses had the key position, and Aaron gladly put himself out to assist him in a clearly subordinate role: "He will speak for you to the people; he will be your communicator, and you will be his leader" (4:16). Indeed, "Aaron is going out to meet you. When he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart" (4:14).
It was that purity of Aaron's motives "when he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart" that advanced the Creation in enabling siblings to work together for the common good and put possible differences to the side. And that was a merit that was behind Aaron's ultimately being selected to lead the Priesthood: "Moses' honor was Aaron's honor".
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com 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: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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