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Shabbat Schedule:  Friday- Shabbat, June 9 - 10

Torah Reading :   Beha'alotecha: Numbers 8:1 - 12:16
Haftora:  Zechariah 2:14 - 4:7
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 8:08 PM
Shabbat Ends: 9:17 PM 
Pirkei Avot - Chapter 2
For more on Pirkei Avot, insights and commentaries, click here 


Aaron Dismayed
In last week’s parsha, Naso, we learned about the gift offerings the leaders of each tribe brought for the inauguration of the Altar. According to Rashi, Aaron felt badly that he was not chosen to bring the dedicatory offering on behalf of his tribe, the Levites, although the leaders of all the other tribes did so.
In this week’s parsha, G‑d consoles Aaron by telling him that his role is far more significant than that of the other leaders because “he would prepare and light the Menorah.”
There are many questions regarding this saga.
The Five Questions
First, why did Aaron wait to express his chagrin at not being chosen until after all the tribes brought their sacrifices?  Why didn’t he complain at the outset?
The simple answer is that he did not know that he would be excluded until the other tribes finished bringing their offerings. Only when Aaron realized that he had been passed over for the honor did he express his hurt feelings.
However, the question can be rephrased. In the beginning of the book of Numbers the tribe of Levi was excluded from the general census. G‑d had them counted separately because the tribe of Levi was chosen to be G‑d’s “personal” legion.
Considering the tribe of Levi’s superior role, Aaron should have been the very first leader selected to bring a dedicatory sacrifice.
Thus the question returns: why didn’t Aaron complain when he was not asked to be the first to bring a dedicatory offering?
Second: Who prevented Aaron from bringing his own offering? These were personal offerings from the tribal leaders themselves. If Aaron chose not bring the offering how could he later complain?
Third: Why did G‑d console him by saying he had the greater role because he would prepare and light the Menorah? What does lighting the Menorah have to do with bringing a dedicatory sacrifice? Are they mutually exclusive? Would it have been so difficult for Aaron to bring the dedicatory sacrifice and also light the Menorah.
Fourth: Why did G‑d have to console him at all? Weren’t Aaron, and his tribe, the ones to offer all the daily and festival sacrifices? Only a Kohain was permitted to offer the animal, bird or flour on the Altar. Isn’t his role obviously greater?  After all, the sacrifices brought by the leaders of each tribe required the service of the Kohain at the Altar.
Fifth: How could Aaron think that he was not part of the dedication of the Mishkan when, in fact, he furnished the ultimate sacrifice? Aaron’s two sons were consumed by the Divine fire at the Altar. Moses told Aaron that this fulfilled G‑d’s words that He would be sanctified through their sacrifice. How could Aaron think that he was found lacking in bringing a sacrifice?
The answer to all of these questions lies in the word that Rashi uses to describe the offerings of the tribal leaders; Chanukah. This word, which is also the name of a Holiday, is translated as inauguration or dedication. It is a cognate to the word chinuch, which means education. It is also related to chein, which means charm of grace. The term connotes not just an initial act but one that instills new life, excitement, joy and a sense of purpose in one’s life.
When Rashi says that “when he saw the inauguration of the leaders” Aaron was not thinking of the sacrifices they brought, for he knew they were minor compared to his major and exalted role in the Mishkan.
What troubled Aaron was that he saw how the act of bringing the offerings actually changed the leaders themselves. First, they were dedicated and inspired enough to offer the sacrifices. Second, when they brought the sacrifices to the Mishkan they were again uplifted; they felt renewed and invigorated both emotionally and spiritually. They were no longer the same people they were before this.
Aaron felt badly that all of what he did, including the terrible sacrifice of his sons, did not appear to affect his emotional or spiritual state. In his mind he remained the same Aaron; he did not feel that he had been transformed. He did not feel more dedicated and inspired; in his mind, he was not part of the dedication process at all regardless of the great things that he did.
This premise can help us shed some light on an enigmatic statement in the Torah: “Aaron did so… as G‑d had commanded Moses.” Rashi comments: “This teaches the praise of Aaron that he did not deviate (literally “he did not change”).”
Commentators have been puzzled by this statement.  Isn’t it obvious that Aaron would not deviate from G‑d’s commandment to him? Who could think otherwise?
One may propose that even after Aaron performed the service that G‑d said was superior to the service of the other leaders it still did not affect a change in him. Notwithstanding that he did not feel any more invigorated and inspired, Aaron still did as he was told; it mattered not that it had no effect on him.
Emotional Blunting?
There seems to be a troubling pattern here. Aaron, the paragon of love, the man of unbounded kindness, was becoming emotionally numb. This emotional pattern seems to have begun when he lost his two sons. The Torah says that “Aaron was silent.” He was unable to show any emotion.
According to this interpretation Aaron did not feel any spiritual boost when he performed his service in the Mishkan.  And if our interpretation is correct, even after he lit the Menorah Aaron was still emotionally detached. It did not change him emotionally.
What was going on in Aaron’s life?
A secular psychologist might opine that he was so traumatized by the loss of his sons that he could not emote. However, a Chassidic approach to this matter yields a completely opposite explanation.
Transcending Emotion
Aaron had reached a spiritual level where he felt so inspired and uplifted that it transcended emotion.
Emotions derive from our recognition of the positive or negative value of someone or something. Emotions are a gauge of how close or distant we are to the other person, situation or thing. If we feel how special the other person is, we will develop a feeling of love for that person. The same is true for fear, hate and all the other emotions. Love is also a sense of yearning for something you don’t yet have and pine to get closer to.
However, when the two things merge into one; when we reach the object of our desire, we transcend emotion. There is no longer a need to emote because we have reached and have become one with our goal.
Jacob Recites the Shema
We can find another example of transcending emotion with Jacob when he was finally reunited with his son Joseph. Jacob showed no emotion when Joseph fell on his neck, embraced him and cried. Rashi says: “he [Jacob] was reading the Shema!”
Jacob’s bizarre lack of feeling for his most beloved son at such a powerful moment of reunification can be explained in light of the above. Jacob had reached the epitome of his love for Joseph, because Jacob had reached the epitome of oneness with G‑d expressed in and through the recitation of the Shema. He was not cold and indifferent to Joseph. He was at one with Joseph because Joseph had now become part of his experience of oneness with G‑d.
This, we may suggest, is at the heart of Aaron’s “coldness.” Aaron had reached the state of oneness with G‑d which transcends even the most heightened awareness of G‑d’s emotion engendering light. Aaron was connected and at one with G‑d’s essence.
Aaron’s Humility
Aaron, in his humility, however, attributed his own silence and lack of emotion as a sign that his mind was weak. Without a strong intellect one cannot elicit the deepest emotions.
When Rashi describes Aaron’s reaction to not being part of the dedication ceremony he uses the term, “Chalsha da’ato,” which literally means his “da’as-knowledge” became weak. What did Rashi mean?
Da’as is the intellectual power that generates emotion. One whose emotions are occluded will generally lack da’as.
Aaron therefore thought that his lack of emotion was attributable to his weak intellectual faculties.
In truth Aaron was mistaken about himself. Aaron was not, as he thought, beneath a heightened and sophisticated level of understanding, he was above it. He had reached the climax of attachment to the oneness of G‑d and transcended palpable emotions.
Nevertheless, Aaron felt badly that he was denied the ability to experience more emotion along with other less sophisticated people. It gets lonely on top where you are the only one who has this heightened level and yearn to share in the feelings of the rest of the people.
So how did G‑d respond to his unhappiness? 
Having Your Cake and Eating it Too
G‑d told him that in the end he would also enjoy the emotions that others feel. Aaron’s role was to prepare and light the Menorah which metaphorically means that he was to kindle and prepare the souls of others for a heightened consciousness and passion for G‑d. While Aaron may, at certain times, remain above the realm of emotion, he will nevertheless be able to ignite the emotions of all others.  As a result Aaron too would be affected and able to feel their emotions
Rashi concludes thus: “Yours is greater than theirs.” One can interpret this two ways:
First, Aaron’s role transcends that of the others, for he is above conventional emotional attachments.
Second, Aaron’s role is greater because “you will get it from them.” Aaron will not lose because of his higher level; he will also share some of the emotion of others because he helped them develop it. When we help someone with something we are rewarded with the same.
In the Messianic Age we will be able to have our proverbial cake and eat it too. We will, on the one hand, experience total unity with G‑d and transcend limited emotional attachments. Our relationship with G‑d will be with His very Essence. This relationship is consummated as a result of our commitment to fulfilling G‑d’s will even when we feel no emotion; just doing what G‑d wants of us even when, as with Aaron, we may not feel that we’ve changed emotionally and spiritually.
On the other hand, because of the way we kindle the souls of others and bring them excitement we will also be rewarded with the joy and excitement from basking in the G‑dly manifestations.
Moshiach Matters:  
In that era there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor competition.
This means that in that era there will not even be spiritual famine nor spiritual war (as in the phrase of the Sages, "the war of the Torah"). Nor will there be envy and competition in holy matters (as in the Gemara's description of scholars, "each of whom is scalded by the aura of his colleague"). Why is this so? - Because the concepts of famine, war, envy and competition (even in holy matters) can exist only when an individual is conscious of his independent worth; they cease to exist when his consciousness of the existence of self becomes a consciousness of the exclusive existence of G‑d.The above explanation notwithstanding, Rambam's words require further clarification.