Friday, April 17, 2015

Shemini, Vayikra 9:7. Despair is No Excuse

Krav el Hamizbei’ach.  Moshe told Aharon to start doing the Avodah.  Rashi here brings part of a Medrash that says that the Mizbei’ach appeared, to Aharon, to be a great horned bull, and he was afraid to do the avodah, but Moshe told him “lomah attah bosh, l’kach nivcharta.”  Obviously, Aharon was paralyzed by his feeling of guilt for his part in the Ma’aseh Eigel.

Reb Chaim Volozhiner in Ru’ach Chaim on Ovos 4:1 says that the mussar haskeil is that a person cannot let regret for past failures and guilt for past sin stand in the way of his accepting and doing what he must do.
וכן מצינו בראשונים, שהיו מתביישים בבואם לעשות מצוה, באמרם מה אנו כי באנו להתקרב עד הלום אחרי מריינו, ואף כי שגגותיהם היה דקה מן הדקה אהרן לא רצה להתקרב אל המזבח כמשכחז״ל ע״פ(שמיני סי) קרב אל המזבח שהיה אהרן בוש וירא לגשת א״ל משה למה אתה בוש לכך נבחרת ע"כ ..  ומיראתו ומבשתו מחטא העגל רמזו חז״ל כי נדמה לו על המזבח כדמות עגל ר״ל כי חטאתו נגדו היה תמיד אף כי קטן חטאתו עד כי חדל וכמשחז"ל ראה חור שזבוח לפניו אמר אי לא שמענא להו השתא עבדו לי כדעבדו בחור ומקיים בי אם יהרג במקדש ה׳ כהן ונביא ולא הוי להו תקנתא לעולם כו׳ עכ"ז היה בוש מאוד לקרב אל המזבח עד שאמר לו משה לכך נבחרת • וכמשרז״ל במ״ר משל לאשה שנתקדשה למלך והיתה בושה איל אחותה הגיס׳ דעתך כי לכך נתקדשת לו •    כי ה' דורש מאתנו שלא נוכל להתרחק חלילה מן התורה והעבודה על ידי הבושה, רק שידע בלבבו כי יש לו ליבוש וליכלם הרבה, ואך רחמי השי"ת קרבהו לעבודתו, וכן ביהושפט הוא אומר (דה"ב י"ז), "ויגבה לבו בדרכי ה"', כי לרוב נמיכת רוחו כאשר היה בא לעבד עבודת ה' אז הגיס דעתו
 Anochi afar va’eifer cannot interfere with bishvili nivra ha’olom, as the Alter from Slobodkeh said.  The Magi’ah on the Ru’ach Chaim, his son, Reb Yitzchok, says more: L’kach nivcharto– it is precisely because you don’t view your opportunities as an entitlement, you realize that mitzad yourself, you don’t deserve these opportunities, that Hashem davkeh wants you to be the primary executor of the Avodoh in the Mishkon.  (I also saw this said in the name of the Mateh Ephraim in the name of the Baal Shem Tov.  The basic idea has been said by many– although leadership requires confidence and decisiveness, the best leader is one who does not want to be a leader.)

 Teshuva, remorse, awareness of failure and imperfection, cannot be allowed to weaken a person.  He always has to remember that Hashem gave him certain abilities and there are particular things that only he can accomplish in the world, and his past neither hinders his ability, nor does it relieve him of his duty, to do them.  Your obligation to fulfill your duty is not so that you can be rewarded for a job well done, it is what you must do as a creation of the Ribono shel Olam.  It doesn't matter if you are unredeemably worthless, it doesn't matter if your life amounts to nothing but failure.   Your personal despair does not relieve you of your duty.  You are in this world to do something, so do it.

 Now, you have to remember that the death of Nadav and Avihu was, to some extent, a punishment for ויחזו את האלוקים ויאכלו וישתו, but Hashem put it off shelo le’arveiv es hasimcha. (Brought below in 10:4- שאו את אחיכם וגו': כאדם האומר לחבירו העבר את המת מלפני הכלה שלא לערבב את השמחה:- from Rashi in Shemos 24:11- ויחזו את הא-להים: היו מסתכלין בו בלב גס מתוך אכילה ושתיה.)  Now you see the this Medrash means to contrast Aharon against Nadav and Avihu.  Nadav and Avihu were libam gaas, they were too comfortable with the hiskarvus to Hashem.  This showed that they were unworthy, and ultimately caused their death.  Aharon, on the other hand, demonstrated that he was very different.  He felt, who am I to be miskareiv to Hashem?  I am not worthy.  Moshe told him it is davka because you feel unworthy that you are worthy.  This lesson was, unfortunately, illustrated with the death of Nadav and Avihu immediately afterwards.

 The great kashe here is this: when Moshe Rabbeinu, at the Sneh, was told to lead Klal Yisrael, he resisted for seven days, because he felt unworthy.  Rashi there says that this excessive resistance resulted in his losing Kehuna and Malchus.  Why the drastically different results for resisting?  Aharon was chosen, Moshe was rejected!  I don’t have a great teretz yet.  Maybe pshat is that Moshe’s flaw was physical; being a chevad peh.  Aharon’s was spiritual.

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