Parshas Tetzaveh:
Jewish Unity

By Rabbi Dovid Rifkind
Adar I 5757

"Now you should command the children of that they shall take for you pure, pressed oil for illumination to kindle the lamp continually. "(Exodus 27:20) With this HaShem tells Moshe to have the Jews bring oil in preparation for use in the Menorah.

The commentators note that there are seemingly superfluous words in this verse. Firstly, Moshe was the sole participant in this dialogue with HaShem so why the necessity of saying "Now You shall command . . . "? Would it not have sufficed to simply say, "Command the children of Israel." as is stated, "Command Aharon and his sons saying (Leviticus 6:2) ? Secondly, what is meant by "they shall take for you" , This oil was to be brought for service in the Mishkan, a service that would be performed by Aharon in his role as Kohein, not by Moshe. In what way then was the oil to be taken for Moshe?

Similarly we find in Exodus 28:1, "Bring near to yourself Aharon your brother and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel." HaShem in this verse is telling Moshe to begin the process of sanctifying Aharon and his sons as Kohanim, first by having their priestly garments made, and culminating in their actual sanctification through anointing with oil. Once again the word "yourself" seems superfluous.

Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz Zt"l in Sichas Mussar (vol. 2:Discourse 23) cites Psalms 123:1-2, "Behold how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers moreover in unity. Like the precious oil upon the head running down upon the beard, the beard of Aharon running down over his garments." This is an allusion to the aforementioned anointment of Aharon as Kohein Gadol which was done by having oil poured on his head and which then flowed down his face onto his clothes. The medrash notes that the reason the words "the beard" is used twice is to tell us that when Moshe saw the oil flowing through his brother, Aharon's, beard, the joy he felt was as great as if it had been he who had been anointed. Although, it would have been natural for Moshe to feel a twinge of jealousy over the fact that Aharon and not he had been chosen Kohein Gadol, the bond and unity between them was such that there was no room for such emotion. This then is the deeper meaning behind the beginning of the verse, "The dwelling of brothers, moreover in unity."

This point is brought home further by an earlier verse, "And the anger of Hashem burned against Moshe and He said, "Is there not Aharon your brother, the Levite etc." (Exodus 4:14). This was in response to Moshe's request that Aharon and not he approach Pharaoh to release the Jews. Rashi on this verse cites the Gemarah

(Zevachim 102a) R' Yehoshua ben Karchah says, "Every time the burning of HaShem's anger is mentioned in the Torah a lasting mark is mentioned with regards to it. However, this burning anger has no lasting mark mentioned with regard to it, and we do not find any punishment as a result of that burning anger."

R' Yose replied o him, "A mark is mentioned with regard to this too, (as alluded to by the end of the verse) "Is there not Aharon, your brother the Levite." For he, (Aharon) had been destined to be the Levite not a Kohein for I had intended that the Kehunah would come from you (Moshe). Now it will not be so, rather he will be the Kohein and you the Levite."

R' Chaim Schmuelevitz comments (ibid.) that on one level R' Yehoshua ben Karcha and R' Yose are not really arguing. Indeed, Moshe lost the Kehunah to Aharon, yet still when Aharon was anointed Moshe rejoiced as if it were he. Indeed from Moshe's perspective there was as R' Yehoshua ben Karcha says, no lasting mark and no punishment. Such was the level of unity that Moshe felt with Aharon specifically, and with all the Jews collectively.

This then is why the Torah specifically says, "Now you shall command" Moshe was being told to demonstrate to the Jews that he harbored no jealousy toward Aharon for the fact that he would be performing the services in the Mishkan. This too, says R' Chaim is why the Torah says that "They shall take for you." Although the services were to physically be performed by Aharon, in Moshe's eyes it was as if he himself was the one performing them.

It may indeed be that this tremendous bond that Moshe felt for others was, in part, what enabled Moshe to be the only one of the Jews to be able to withstand hearing the Torah directly from HaShem. For this is one of the three traits which the Ohr HaChaim HaKodesh (Exodus 19:2) lists as prerequisites to the accepting of the Torah, the other two are humility and a willingness to toil for growth in Torah. It follows that ones level of Torah acquisition will be proportionate to the level at which he exhibits these traits. It is therefore fitting that Moshe who exemplified perfection in his feeling of unity with the other Jews (in addition to being the most humble of men Numbers 12:3) was worthy to hear the Torah directly from HaShem himself.

Although we cannot approach the level of Moshe, it is important to keep in mind the fact that as Jews we are all one. When a fellow Jew rejoices it should be as ours. When a fellow Jew is in need of assistance, their need should be our own. And so too should we feel the pain of our fellow Jew as acutely as our own. Through this we will merit what it says in the Gemarah, "One who joins I the anguish of fellow Jews will merit to see the consolation of the Jewish People(upon the arrival of Moshiach) (Taanis 11a).

Published and İFebruary 20, 1997 by the Chicago Community Kollel



Copyright 1999 to present by Chicago Community Kollel