Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Beha'aloscha

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Beha'aloscha begins with a discussion of the lighting of the menorah in the mishkan. Rashi on Bamidbar 8:2 asks why do the instructions for the lighting of the menorah follow the end of Parshas Nasso dealing with the sacrifices brought by the nesi'im? Rashi answers that Aharon felt bad when he saw that all of the tribes had a sacrifice brought by their individual nasi in honor of the inauguration of the miskhan, but shevet Levi did not have a part in the ceremony. Seeing Aharon's dismay, Hashem said to Aharon -- your role is greater than theirs as you kindle and prepare the lights of the menorah.

The Ramban asks - why did Hashem mention the menorah to Aharon in response to his concerns? The Kohanim also were given the job of bringing the ketores (incense) about which it is taught that whomever brought the ketores was rewarded with great wealth. The Ramban answers that the menorah is timeless as not only was it used in the mishkan, it has continued to be used throughout the generations.

Rabbi Frand then gave another answer to the Ramban's question. The Rambam teaches that the kohain would light the menorah twice - once in the morning and once in the evening. The Meshech Chachma explains that the menorah was lit in the morning to show that Hashem does not need the lights of the menorah. One might rationalize that lights are needed at night, but the lighting of the menorah during the day demonstrates that they were not lit for the purpose of illuminating a room.

Similarly, the Torah teaches that the aron had poles attached to it. These poles stayed attached whether or not the aron was being moved. However, the poles were never truly needed, since the aron floated on its own and actually carried those who were supposed to carry it. Thus the fact that the poles were attached to the aron on a constant basis were not for the purposes of carrying the aron.

Rabbi Frand tied these concepts together by citing to the sefer Milchemes Yehuda who explains that Hashem does not need our mitzvos. He does not need the light of the menorah to see, or for the people to carry the aron. Rather, the mitzvos are given to us to improve ourselves. We are commanded to give tzedakah - not because He needs us to be charitable, but rather because being charitable improves the character of the person giving the money. Similarly, Hashem does not need us to wear tefillin. The reason that we wear them is that they improve us by putting the batim on our head and arm.

This was the reason that Hashem said to Aharon - your role is greater than theirs. By lighting the menorah during the day and night, the kohanim show that the mitzvos are given to us to improve ourselves, and not because Hashem needs our actions. Thus Aharon's role was not temporary like the nesi'im. Instead he was given the job of teaching us the true meaning of mitzvos.

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1 comment:

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