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Friday, April 29

The Weekly Shtikle - Acharei Mos

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.

At the beginning of this week's parsha, Moshe is instructed to relay to Aharon the process necessary for entering the kodesh hakadashim on Yom Kippur. (According to GR"A's understanding, Aharon himself could do this any day of the year.) This instruction was given, as noted in the pasuk (16:1,) following the death of Aharon's two sons. Rashi notes that the correlation to this tragic event was not merely a temporal one. He explains, by means of a familiar medical parable, that the message behind this passage was to be diligent with this process so as not to meet the same fate as Nadav and Avihu did when they were not as careful.

In this specific instance, Moshe Rabbeinu is directed to relate these laws to "Aharon achicha," your brother. This is certainly not the only time Aharon is referred to in this manner. Nevertheless, it is deemed unusual enough to be addressed by numerous commentaries. One approach, suggested by Kli Yekar and Malbim, based on a midrash, is that this procedure was not necessary for Moshe himself. One might have thought that since Aharon was his "brother" in prophecy, that he would also be permitted to enter at will. Despite his elevated status, however, he was still required to follow this process.

Building on this idea, Panim Yafos suggests further that Moshe Rabbeinu would have been reluctant to relay this warning to Aharon, similar to how he did not want to accept his initial charge to lead the nation out of respect for his older brother. He did not want Aharon to be insulted that he did not have the same access as himself. To this, HaShem indicates that he is also his brother in humility and will accept these requirements wholeheartedly.

I would like to suggest another possible approach. The very first time we see the term "Aharon achicha" is when HaShem assures Moshe (Shemos 4:14) that his brother will come to meet him and be genuinely overjoyed at his younger brother's stature. Aharon had a special knack for empathy and ability to participate in the joy – or the pain – of another. In this instance, Moshe is being asked to return the favour. As explained above, this instruction was potentially very painful in nature as it pertained directly to the death of Aharon's sons. Moshe is therefore called upon to express brotherly love and approach this specific command with extra sensitivity and care.

Have a good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: A Revealing Note
Dikdukian: Stand up, goat!
Dikdukian: Mitum'os: Watch that plural

Dikdukian: Qualification of the AHOY rule

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