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These are the generations of Aaron and Moses, on the day G-d spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai (3:1).
We would expect to hear something about both Aaron's children and Moses' children. But instead:
These are the sons of Aaron: the oldest Nadav, then Avihu, Elazar and Ithamar (3:2).
The Torah leaves the sons of Moses a complete blank. Elsewhere (Chronicles I 23:14-17), Moses' sons are named as Gershom and his son Shevuel, Eliezer and his son Rehavia, who is described being extremely prolific.
Rashi says that Aaron's sons were the only one listed by name because they came under Moses' educational influence. From here we have the teaching that he that brings up a person according to the Torah is reckoned as being his father irrespective of whether he is the biological father or not.
In addition, it should be noticed that the Torah gives very little space to Moses' sons at all. And in contrast to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there is absolutely nothing about Moses relationship with his own children.
The reasons may be hinted in these verses. The Torah declares that both Aaron and Moses had children. But it proceeds to list the names and then the doings of the children of Aaron. Not all of them were successful. But they all 'did things'. Aaron's eldest two sons, Nadav and Avihu, we are reminded, died because they brought an un-required 'strange fire' into the Holy of Holies. There was no suggestion of malicious intention, only inappropriate action. And Elazar and Ithamar served in their place, even 'in Aaron's lifetime' (3:4). The Torah's stating that they served as kohanim 'al penei aharon aviehem' implies that Aaron made way for his own sons to serve in the same capacity as himself in his own lifetime. Thus Aaron's sacred work would be continued in the appropriate manner after his death.
By contrast, the role that Moses' children might have played was taken by Joshua (c.f. Ex. 24:13). As Aaron for Elazar and Ithamar, Moses made way for Joshua in his lifetime (27:20).
On this basis, the glaring ommission of Moses' children being mentioned by name could teach the following. Firstly, it could be a veiled rebuke from G-d to Moses. Moses put his entire efforts in guiding the fortunes of the emerging Israelite nation. That left insufficient energies for matters at home… a warning to people who work so hard in their careers (however beneficial they are for the wider community) and do not leave over any 'family time' …
And secondly, it demonstrates that Torah has to be learnt; it is not acquired by inheritance or association. Placing Moses' sons next to Aaron's sons and then saying nothing about Moses' sons could indicate that though the 'association with the great' was there, nothing significant came of it. (For doing one's best [as Nadav and Avihu] even if it turns out to be a mistake, is better than not doing anything.) Thus the omission of Moses' sons' names suggests that parents have to do more for their children than provide the 'right company' (as putting the sons of Aaron and Moses together would suggest). They have to become personally involved in giving appropriate guidance to their children where necessary in order to bring out their greatest qualities…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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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