This week we read the Torah portion of Beha’aloscho. It begins by telling us that (Bamidbar 8:1-2) “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to Aharon and say to him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the Menorah.’’” In other words, Hashem commanded that Aharon light the Menorah. Following this the Torah informs us that (Bamidbar 8:3) “Aharon did so. He lit the lamps toward the face of the Menorah as Hashem commanded Moshe.” Rashi cites the words “Aharon did so” and explains that “This shows Aharon’s virtue. He did not deviate (from G-d’s commands).” In other words Rashi is explaining that Aharon was extremely virtuous; he did exactly as Hashem commanded.
We need to understand Rashi’s words. Why does the Torah need to point out that Aharon followed exactly what Hashem told him to do? Aharon was the High Priest and one of the leaders of the Jewish people. We have seen his righteousness from the beginning. It should be self-evident that he obeyed G-d’s commands!
We can understand this by looking at a deeper understanding of just what the Torah is saying. We are taught that there are two different manners in which one can receive a Divine revelation. One is when a person feels inspired and strives on his own to come closer to Hashem. The Zohar refers to this as an “awakening from below which brings an awakening from Above, from G-d Almighty, in its wake.” However there are Divine levels which are beyond a human being’s power to reach. This is given to a person as a gift from Above. The Zohar call this an “awakening from Above which brings an awakening from below, from the individual, in its wake.”
Regarding the construction of the Menorah G-d commands (Shemos 25:31) that “the Menorah shall be made.” It does not say that you shall make it. Rashi cites these words and explains that it shall be made “by itself. Since Moshe found it difficult (to form the Menorah), Hashem told him ‘Cast the talent of gold into the fire, and it will be made by itself.’” In other words the building of the Menorah was done by G-d Himself. Since it was obviously above anything that a creation could reach there was room to think that how Aharon lit it was not all that important. Nevertheless Aharon did not deviate and performed all of his responsibilities exactly as commanded.
We can still ask why the Menorah required Aharon’s involvement. After all it was above the grasp of a human in any case! The explanation is that even when Hashem gives us a spiritual present, He expects us to do everything within our power to deserve. We must learn from this that as wonderful as it is to rely on G-d, we must do our part as well.
Wishing one and all a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn