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Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum
Hebrew Academy of Cleveland


Speak to Aharon and say to him, "When you kindle the lamps." (8:2)

Parashas Beha'alosecha commences with a brief description of the Menorah and the command that Aharon HaKohen be the individual to light it. He is to be followed by his descendants, the Kohanim, whose service includes the lighting of the Menorah. This parshah is juxtaposed upon the previous parshah, which described in detail the Korbanos, offerings, brought by the Nesiim, Princes, leaders of each tribe, at the inauguration of the Mizbayach, Altar. The connection between the Chanukas HaMizbayach and the Hadlokas Ha'Menorah is expounded upon by Chazal in what has become a well-known Midrash.

All the tribes were commanded to bring offerings, with the exception of Shevet Levi. The Prince of Shevet Levi was none other than Aharon HaKohen who took this personally. He said, "Perhaps the Tribe of Levi is unacceptable because of me." Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to assuage his brother's feelings: "Go and say to Aharon, 'I have prepared greater things for you! As for the sacrifices brought by the Nesiim, they are only applicable as long as the Bais Hamikdash remains standing, but the lights of the Menorah endure forever - and all of the brachos, blessings, which I gave you that you may bless My children will likewise never be cancelled.'"

The Ramban questions this Midrash, wondering why Aharon was satisfied with the lighting of the Menorah, yet seems not to have been calmed by the twice-daily offering of Incense - which was quite praiseworthy - with the animal and daily flour offerings, or with the Yom Kippur service, which was to be performed only by him. Entering into the Kodesh HaKodoshim on the holiest day of the year was an unusual honor. Moreover, all of the members of the Tribe of Levi were to be servants of Hashem. Furthermore, just as the Korbanos were to be cancelled once the Bais Hamikdash was no longer extant, so was the Menorah's function to be ended. The Ramban posits that Chazal's allusion to the Hadlokas HaMenorah is a reference to the lighting of the Chanukah Menorah which continues to this very day.

In other words, Aharon was promised something everlasting. His service would continue far beyond that of the Korbanos. The Chashmonean dynasty had descended from Aharon, since the Chashmoniim were Kohanim. They led the revolt against the Greco - Syrians during the period of the Second Bais Hamikdash. When they came to relight the Menorah, the drop of oil that had been sufficient only for one day miraculously burned for eight days. In the merit of these righteous zealots for the glory of Hashem and His people, Jews throughout the world continue to light the Menorah on Chanukah, the festival that commemorates this miracle.

To recap the above: Aharon was depressed for this Shevet, since, as the Prince of Shevet Levi, he observed that his entire tribe had been excluded from the Inauguration of the Mizbayach. He was granted consolation with the specific avodos, services, rendered by the Kohanim. This, however, does not ameliorate the Levi aspect of the Sanctuary service. Aharon wore two hats: Kohen and Levi. Concerning the Kohen hat, there does not seem to be a satisfactory response to Shevet Levi's exclusion from the Chanukas HaMizbayach.

The Shem M'Shmuel cites his father, the Avnei Nezer, who explains the essential difference between Kohanim and Leviim. The task of the Levi is to connect earth to Heaven, to sanctify the mundane and elevate it to a higher, more sublime sphere. The Levi's role in the Bais Hamikdash is primarily as a singer. His beautiful melodies infuse the people with a sense of deveikus, clinging, to Hashem, inspiring them to raise their hearts and minds Heavenward, thereby lifting them out of the muck of this temporary world. Thus, they transcend their physical limitations and rise above this world.

The Kohen's function is the opposite. He connects Heaven with earth by drawing the Shechinah into the Bais HaMikdash. He does this as the fires descend upon the Altar, infusing the world with the Divine. Interestingly, the Levi performs his service in public, for all to see and, thus, be inspired. The Kohen's service is covert, away from the public eye, reflecting its intensely sublime nature.

We now understand why Aharon took issue with his and his tribe's exclusion from the Chanukas Ha'Mizbayach. Aharon was the Kohen Gadol; he was also the Nasi of Shevet Levi. As their leader, he wanted to take part in their Levitical service, as well as his Priestly service. If he was going to wear two hats, he wanted to play both roles. As a Kohen, he had already been promised exclusive rights to all of the special sacrificial duties carried out in the Bais Hamikdash. The Heaven to earth connection was alive and well, with Aharon standing at its helm. As head of Shevet Levi, he asked that he play an equal role in the earth to Heaven modality. Aharon sought every opportunity to serve the Almighty. If there was more, he wanted to be included in it. Hashem responded by promising him that he would light the Menorah. The act of lighting the Menorah is a Levitical act, which is apparent upon examining the vernacular in which it is presented in the Torah.

Beha'alosecha es ha'neiros, "When you light the lights." The word, Beha'alosecha, translated literally means, "When you raise up." Rashi explains that, since the flame rises up, the word for lighting, which is the precursor for causing the flame to arise, is Beha'alosecha. This teaches that one needs to madlik u'meitiv es ha'neiros ad she'ha'shalheves oleh mei elehah, hold the taper next to the wick until the flame rises up on its own.

We see now how the Torah goes out of its way to emphasize that not only must Aharon light the candles, he must also see to it that the flames rise Heavenward, in order for the lighting to be complete. This is symbolic of the Levitic form of service, in which the physical/mundane is elevated and sanctified toward Hashem. Igniting spiritual enthusiasm within the physical hearts of the Jew is Shevet Levi's style. Yet, this is performed by a Kohen. Hashem assigned Aharon to do a Levitical activity carried out by a Kohen.

Furthermore, the Menorah's unique connection to the Kohen is preserved by the place - deep within the confines of the Bais Hamikdash - where this service is performed. The Levi served in public, carrying out his service before the people to hear and be inspired. The Kohen's service is executed primarily away from the public view. The Shem MiShmuel observes that this may underscore Chazal's statement that the hadlokas ha'Menorah, lighting of the Menorah, was not actually an avodah, proper Priestly service. For, although it is executed by a Kohen, the nature of the lighting with its distinct earth-to-Heaven flavor, distinguishes it from other Kohanic obligations. We now appreciate why the lighting of the Menorah so assuaged Aharon, whereas any of the other privileges which he enjoyed did not. He was seeking that service which was Levitical in nature, but executed by a Kohen.

With the concepts gained thus far, the Shem MiShmuel offers a brilliant explanation of the Ramban's thesis that Hashem's promise to Aharon that the lighting of the Menorah would continue unabated is an allusion to neiros Chanukah, our annual celebration of lights, commemorating our victory over the Greeks, Hellenists, and the forces of darkness.

With the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, the Divine service that was so much a part of that holy edifice came to an abrupt end. The only vestige of the Bais Hamikdash service that remains with us today is the lighting of the Chanukah Menorah. This intensely holy expression of our deepest and most spiritual of concepts was performed in the Bais Hamikdash in a discreet, secluded area, behind the walls of the Bais Hamikdash. With the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash and the ensuing galus, exile, the seder ha'devarim, order of things, became altered, since the profundity and confidential nature of the Divine service are under siege. This is reflected by the word, galus, exile, which is a derivative of the Hebrew word, galah, revealed, exposed.

Exile for the Jewish People is a time when, as we have seen throughout history, the forces of evil assail the most sacred components of Jewish life, threatening to profane and reveal that which has been rightfully concealed. The risk of forever losing what we once had is too great, and so the Divine worship is interrupted, a forced hiatus must be enacted. Obviously, the service of the Kohanim, which is their private and sacred charge, cannot be performed, since they are no longer within the confines of the Holy City and Bais Hamikdash. Their work "goes with the territory." Only when the spirituality - which the Kohanim cause to descend via the medium of their service - has the correct place to rest within the seclusion of the Bais Hamikdash can there be any relief of this sort for the Kohen within Klal Yisrael.

The Levi is not restricted by the confines and parameters that prevail over the service of the Kohen. The earth-to-Heaven approach need not be played out in a spiritually-correct place. He can inspire people to turn to Hashem under any circumstances and in any place. Thus, we understand why the kindling of the Menorah was that vestige of the Bais Hamikdash service which could continue even in galus. The lighting of the Menorah was a Levitical service performed by a Kohen. Its intense and holy light can continue to inspire Jewish hearts and souls even in the darkness of the exile. Its illumination endures, as it causes the inner spark of every Jewish soul to ignite and flame upwards towards Heaven. Indeed, the entire concept of hadlokas ha'Menorah is one of pirsumei nissa, publicizing the great miracle which took place in the time of the Chashmonaim.

The Temple service came to an end with the advent of galus. The intimate service, which was carried out discreetly, could not withstand the public nature of galus. Chanukah candle-lighting, however, thrived on its exposure to the outside world. Indeed, the deeper the exile and the greater the grip of the forces that are antithetical to Torah and mitzvos, the greater efficacy of the message of the candles. The merit of Aharon HaKohen and the Chashmonaim extends far beyond their time, as the radiance of the Chanukah lights continues to illuminate our hearts and minds until this very day.

Make for yourself two silver trumpets…and they shall be yours for the summoning of the Assembly and to cause the camps to journey. (10:2)

The chatzotzros, trumpets, were for the exclusive use of Moshe Rabbeinu. The trumpets were hidden just prior to Moshe's demise. Indeed, even Yehoshua, Moshe's successor, did not have access to them. The Talmud Menachos 28a states that none of the Klei ha'Mishkan, vessels that were made by Moshe for use in the Mishkan, was designated only for that period in Jewish History. In fact, they were allowed to be used in either of the Batei Mikdash; and l'asid lavo, in the future, when the third Bais haMikdash will be in existence. The only exception to this rule was the two chatzotzros made by Moshe and used exclusively by him. Even if they were made accessible, they could not be used. New trumpets must be fashioned. The question is obvious: Why? What was there about these trumpets that were uniquely endemic to that period in time?

The Mishkoltzer Rebbe, Shlita, explains that the stated purpose of the chatzotzros was l'mikra ha'eidah, for the summoning of the assembly, to call the nation, to rally them to listen to the dvar Hashem, word of G-d. Every generation has its unique manner of hearkening; every generation has to be summoned differently. The approach that serves best for one generation does not necessarily serve the best interests of the next generation. One generation must be addressed with calm and respect, while another generation must be exhorted to listen. It all depends on the people, the lifestyle, and societal attitudes. It takes an astute leader who is aware of - and acutely attuned to - the issues confronting the people of his generation to determine the best and most successful way to reach them.

The people would spread out and gather (the manna). (11:8)

The Zohar HaKadosh says, Shatu ha'am v'laktu - shatya hu da. They were shotim, fools. Those who lay down on the ground to collect manna were fools, for whatever is prepared for a person he will receive without having to "bend down" for it. Indeed, Horav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zl, would chastise those close to him if he observed their endeavoring beyond what was necessary in order to earn a living. He exhorted them to do only what was necessary - and no more. Hashem will send His blessing, as He did with the manna. We see that the Jewish people all received exactly what they needed, regardless of how much effort they expended in seeking out the manna. Hashem supplied what everyone needed. They had only to go out and gather it in - no more.

Rav Yosef Chaim would often apply a mashal, parable, from the Chafetz Chaim to lend deeper meaning to this idea. A customer brought a "brilliant" suggestion to the owner of a wine shop. Rather than barely make a living, he could double his profits by adding another spigot to the wine barrel, thus enabling it to pour twice as much wine. Clearly, the customer was far from astute. A person must accept the idea that, regardless of how much one exerts himself in pursuit of his livelihood, the results will be the same.

The flipside is one that has become a way of life for some people: sitting back in deep relaxation as if to say, "Hashem will provide for me. Why should I kill myself to earn a living?" Rav Yosef Chaim would respond with the pasuk in Devarim 15:18, "So that Hashem will bless you in all that you do. Hashem's blessing occurs only after a person begins to act. Indeed, it is only when a man toils for a living that he develops a relationship with Hashem as Provider, for he realizes how integral Hashem is to his success.

Another aspect of striving endlessly to earn more and more money, which has negative consequences, is the feeling that consumes so many people, the delusion of Kochi u'maaseh yadi assah li es ha'chayil ha'zeh, "My strength and my might wrought for me this great wealth" (Devarim 15:18). This condemnation becomes increasingly detestable when, in the pursuit of a livelihood, one reneges on his spiritual obligations. Davening is no longer what it should be - not even what it used to be. We run it for a quick "visit" to the shul, because we do not want to be late for an opportunity to earn more money. Torah study becomes another victim of the pursuit of the almighty dollar. How could a person fantasize Hashem rewarding him for cutting back on his spiritual commitments? Imagine that we would skip a shiur to earn more money. Are we foolish enough to believe that Hashem will reward such abuse?

One wonders: "How am I going to make it? Jobs are difficult to come by. My family is growing and needs support. My qualifications for success in most fields of endeavor are limited. What should I do? There does not seem to be a way to succeed!" This question was presented to Horav Moshe Soloveitchik, zl, of Switzerland, by a man who was literally falling apart from the pressure. He had no way of solving the burning issues confronting him in supporting his family.

Rav Moshe quoted a powerful parable from the Chafetz Chaim. A man stood on a high mountain and gazed down on the city below. From his upraised perch, he saw nothing but the roofs of homes. He saw no streets. Thus, he wondered how the people of the city got around, unless they were walking across the roofs! He descended somewhat, allowing him to observe that there were large thoroughfares, but no side streets. As he kept descending, he was able to see that, actually, there were side streets, backyards and alleys. The lesson is quite simple: at first glance, everything appears overwhelming, with no way to traverse life's obstacles. There are just no roads. But as we mature and gain a deeper perspective on life, we see that, harbei shluchim la Makom, Hashem has many agents, many media for providing His people's sustenance. We must be patient a little bit longer.

Moshe said to him, "Are you being zealous for my sake? Would that the entire people of Hashem could be prophets!" (11:29)

The Akeidas Yitzchak expounds on the willingness of Moshe Rabbeinu to yield to others. He did not possess the slightest vestige of jealousy over the fact that his students had been inspired with the spirit of prophecy. Indeed, not only was Moshe not envious of his own students who became prophets, he indicated that if Hashem would enable the entire nation to achieve a level of prophecy, he would be pleased. It is one thing to defer to one's student; it is an entirely different form of deference when one acquiesces to a stranger. In the Sefer Chassidim, cited by Ish L'reieihu, Rabbi Yehudah HaChasid writes that one who is a vatran, who yields, gives in, who gladly relinquishes his money to another Jew, who is filled with joy when the opportunity to lend or help another Jew surfaces, his money is blessed. Whoever invests his money will do well. One who does not begrudge another Jew is not only himself personally blessed, but his money is blessed, as well.

One who possesses an ayin tovah, a good eye, who views everything from a positive perspective, indicates that, in fact, all of his other middos, character traits, are in order. This is in contradistinction to the one who views everything through a lens of jaundice and negativity. There are those who cannot tolerate any form of competition. As soon as they observe another person vying for the position or opportunity they seek, they immediately become negative about the individual, spewing forth cynicism and even venom simply because someone had the "gall" to want what they wanted, to seek the position they have thought was theirs for the taking. Such a person stuffs his ears, so that the cries of the impoverished and the wretched do not penetrate his peaceful state of mind. After all, he worked - let them also work. He forgets that some people simply do not have it together, or they are embittered people and, thus, lack the personality to "make it" in the marketplace.

The story is told concerning one of the more distinguished students of Horav Chaim Brim, zl, who was offered a position at the helm of one of the esteemed Torah organizations in Yerushalayim. There was some concern, since his office would be in the Old City; riots by the Arabs were taking place at regular intervals, so that it was not very safe. A talmid, disciple, discusses his course of action with his rebbe prior to making any decision of his own. Rav Chaim was prepared to encourage him to take the position, when the student, as an aside for the purpose of giving his rebbe nachas, satisfaction, said, "There were others who applied for this position, but I prevailed." What he meant to intimate was, "Since I am Rav Chaim Brim's talmid, I prevailed." The reaction he received from his rebbe was startling.

Suddenly, Rav Chaim became ashen-faced and began to shake, "Someone else wanted this job, and you did not step aside to yield? Is this what I taught you? Everything that you have done is in direct contrast to the way I act. The most important lesson in life is to defer to others. You came to question me concerning the safety of the position, but the important question, whether you should take a position that others are vying for, you did not ask me!"

Interestingly, whenever Rav Chaim travelled by a taxi driven by a Jewish driver, he always added a shekel to the fare. He explained that it was his way of indicating to the driver that he was pleased with the trip and the price he was charged. Often, the passenger feels that he is being overcharged, so that he pays the fare begrudgingly. By giving an extra shekel above the stated price, he was intimating satisfaction, thereby making the driver feel good. Indeed, one taxi driver was so moved by Rav Chaim's actions, that he returned the fare and kept the tip! He felt the lesson that it imparted was worth far more than the money he would have earned.

Vatranus was a manifest quality intrinsically associated with the Rosh Yeshivah of Beth Medrash Govohah, Horav Shneur Kotler. In his book, "Visions of Greatness," Rabbi Yosef Weiss relates an episode in the Rosh Yeshivah's life which bespeaks this quality. A young yeshivah student studying in one of the Lithuanian yeshivos often dreamed of meeting the venerable Horav Aharon Kotler, zl, face to face. It would be an incredible z'chus, merit and privilege, to meet the fiery Torah giant. He once queried one of his friends who had met Rav Aharon, "Tell me, if I would, by chance, meet Rav Aharon on the train, how would I distinguish him from any other notable Torah scholar?"

The friend smiled, "Simple. If you see a man with blue fire burning in his eyes, you will know it is Rav Aharon."

Years later, the Nazis came to power, and the time for them to execute their Final Solution for the Jewish problem had come. Every Jew who was able to escape, did. It was not easy, and passports were hard to come by. The young yeshivah student was one of the many yeshivah bachurim, students, who rushed to the city of Kovno in the hope of obtaining a passport there.

The young man made his way to the passport office only to stand there staring in chagrin. There were literally hundreds of people standing in line, waiting for that elusive passport. He had no choice other than to wait in line in the hope that he would eventually get a passport before it was too late.

Hours passed, and the line had hardly moved. Perhaps he would not get a passport. There were just so many to go around. He might not be one of the lucky ones. His hopes were dimming by the hour. His prospects did not look positive. Every time the line moved a few inches, he moved forward, hoarding his new space. No one was taking it from him.

A young man who happened to be standing in front of the yeshivah student noticed his agitation and concern. He turned around and gave what appeared to be a questioning glance. Embarrassed by his impetuous behavior, the yeshivah bachur put his head down and looked for a hole in which to hide himself. Suddenly, without as much as saying a word, the young man who had turned around stepped aside and offered his place to the yeshivah student.

The bachur was awestruck by the young man's behavior, but was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. He immediately grabbed the spot made available to him by this kind young man. "He must be someone special," he thought to himself. "Surely, if he was waiting in line, he also wanted a passport. Yet, he moved over, yielding his place in line to me. What an incredible person! What kind of nobility of character he must possess to act so selflessly."

Finally, the yeshivah student reached the end of the line. With trembling hands, he took the passport in his hands, stared at it and almost broke down in tears. He was beyond happy. When he saw that the young man who had given him his place in line also had a passport, his joy was complete.

It was only later that he discovered the identity of the young man who had so kindly given up his place to him. He was none other than Rav Shneuer Kotler - Rav Aharon's son! The bachur marveled over Rav Schneuer's ability to be mevater. Clearly, if such was the nobility of his son, can one imagine what the father was like!"

Va'ani Tefillah

Ha'mechadeish b'tuvo b'chol yom tamid maasei Bereishis.
In His goodness He renews daily, the work of Creation.

In Horav S.R. Hirsch's commentary to Bereishis (1:4), he explains the concept of tov, good, with regard to Creation. The Torah (Bereishis 1:31) writes, Va'yar Elokim es kol asher asah, v'hinei tov meod, "And G-d saw all that He had made and behold it was very good." Tov, good, in this sense means that Hashem maintains His Creation in a constant state of existence only because He finds it "good" that it should exist. It, thus, exists only as long as He continues to find it "good" to exist. Contrary to what some non-believers posit, that Hashem created the world and then left it to "itself," we believe that if at any second Hashem's will would run contrary to the world's continued existence, the world would all fade away as if it had never existed. Any and all creations exist only by the will of Hashem. The G-d of Creation is also the G-d of History - something these secularists refuse to acknowledge, because it would make them accountable to Hashem. Indeed, as the Shlah HaKodesh explains: Ein shum metzius ba'olam zulas metziuso Yisborach, "There is no real entity in the world other than Hashem;" Ki b'hesteiro yovad ha'kol, "For with His concealment, it all disappears." Reality is not real. The only reality is Hashem.

In memory
ofbr> Barbara Pinkis
Esther Chana bas R' Avigdor
niftar 15 Sivan

Michele and Marcelo Weiss and family
Eric and Lisa Pinkis and family

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