שביבי אש
לסדר בהעלתך

דַּבֵּר אֶל-אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת

Speak to Aaron, and say to him, When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand (Numbers 5:10). If you withhold from the priest that which belongs to him, by your life you will require him when you suspect your wife of having committed adultery. (Numbers 8:2)

Rashi comments: Why does the chapter of the menorah follow the chapter of the princes? Because when Aaron saw how the princes participated in the dedication of the Tabernacle he was disturbed that neither he nor his tribe was with them at the dedication. The Holy One Blessed Be He therefore said to him, "By your life, your position is greater than theirs, because you will kindle and care for the lamps of the menorah."

This is very amazing. Who prevented Aaron from participating in the dedication of the altar? Didn't the princes bring their offerings purely out of the goodness of their hearts, and not because they were commanded to do so by the Eternal? Nor did Moses know that the Eternal would accept the offerings of the princes until He told Moses that he would accept them. So if Aaron's heart did not move him to bring an offering of his own, was it appropriate for him to be upset with the Eternal? And why then was the Eternal so quick to assuage Aaron's feelings by telling him that he would light the lamps of the menorah? Moreover, what is so special about this particular task that He could say to Aaron "your position is greater than theirs"? See the commentary of the Ramban on this.

But it appears to our master to explain that when a king honors his subjects by coming to visit and meeting with them in one of their towns, it is customary for the townspeople, for their part, to bring him some gift of respect and to receive him in a festive ceremony. Moreover, the subjects also give honor to the ministers and officers out of respect to the king. This is what the princes of Israel did of their own accord by bringing offerings that they themselves had donated in order to honor the of Israel Who placed His Sanctuary in their midst (in the same manner as the Midrash Rabbah describes at the beginning of poroshat Emor). It is not, however, appropriate for the ministers and officers of the king who serve him at all times to bring him an offering at the moment when they come with him to visit his subjects. Aaron and his tribe could not, therefore, join with the princes, the representatives of the entire people, in bringing offerings to the Eternal. For Aaron and the Levites were chosen by the Eternal to stand before Him to serve Him, and, in performing their duties in the Sanctuary, they are considered the agents of the Merciful One. Aaron thus became envious of the princes, the leaders of the Children of Israel, because they were given the opportunity to give honor to the most honored King, while he, just because he was a priest of G-d Most High, could bring Him nothing.

The Eternal cured his disappointment and gave him the commandment to light the menorah. And this corresponds to the end of the parable found in the Midrash Rabbah to poroshat Emor, for when the visiting king gratefully sees the honor with which his subjects have received him, he reciprocates and, as befits a king, bestows his own gifts upon them. Now it is the minister of the king, the one in charge of his household who is responsible for informing the people that the king wishes to honor them in return. This is what the Eternal did through Aaron when he lit the lamps of the Menorah. He showed the people that the Eternal would shine His countenance upon them for their good. As it is written in the Midrash Rabbah, "does the Eternal require the light of the menorah? Rather the menorah is lit to make it known that the Divine Presence dwells within Israel." For when the Eternal is angered to uproot a man from the land, He hides his face from him, as it is written (Deuteronomy 31:18): "And I will surely hide my face from them," for the light of His countenance bestows life, favor, and kindness. When, however, He lifts up His countenance to them, it shows that He seeks their peace and their well-being.

This is the meaning of what the Eternal said to Aaron "your position is greater than theirs," because Aaron is the one who goes before the Eternal with a pillar of fire to inform the people of all the good that the Eternal has promised to do for them and to tell the Children of Israel that G-d is gracious unto them and they will enjoy all the goodness of the earth.

בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת

When you light the lamps(Numbers 8:2)

Rashi comments: That you must continue to kindle until the flame is burning by itself

See what our master wrote concerning this in poroshat T'tzaveh, and you will nourish your soul as with milk and honey.

וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָהֵמָּה אֵלָיו אֲנַחְנוּ טְמֵאִים לְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם לָמָּה נִגָּרַע לְבִלְתִּי הַקְרִיב אֶת-קָרְבַּן יְהוָה בְּמֹעֲדוֹ בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

And those men said to him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man; Why are we kept back, so that we may not offer an offering to the Lord in his appointed season among the people of Israel? (Numbers 9:7)

See Rashi and the Sifri who say that the ritually unclean ones were asking only to have blood sprinkled upon them by the priests. And they interpret the verse in this way, because otherwise why would they have asked such a question ("why should we be held back" (לָמָּה נִגָּרַע)) from our G-d?

But to our master the matter appears simple, since in the chapter concerning the bringing of the Pascal offering on the fourteenth of Nissan the Scripture writes (Numbers 9:3): "you shall keep it in its appointed season" (תַּעֲשׂוּ אֹתוֹבְּמֹעֲדוֹ), from which the Sages deduce that the Pascal offering is brought even on the Sabbath and even if the people are ritually unclean. Now Moses and the elders of Israel already knew this chapter before they were taught the law of Pesah Sheini, but they did not yet know the difference between the ritual uncleanliness of the entire congregation (ציבור) and of a single individual (יחיד). And it was this point that the ritually unclean men were disputing with Moses, and they asked: "why should we be too few so as not to bring the offering of the Lord in its appointed season among the children of Israel" (לָמָּה נִגָּרַע לְבִלְתִּי הַקְרִיב אֶת-קָרְבַּן יְהוָה בְּמֹעֲדוֹ בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל)? For the reason that the Scripture wrote "בְּמֹעֲדוֹ" was to teach us that the Pascal offering is brought when the congregation is ritually unclean, and if so why should we be considered too few to bring the Pascal offering? And Moses did not yet comprehend the matter fully, so he said to them (Numbers 9:8): "Wait, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you." Be accurate and find truth, how charming.

וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה עָנָו מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה

And the man Moses was very humble, more than any other men which were upon the face of the earth.(Numbers 12:3)

Now in poroshat Noah it is written (Genesis 7:1): "for you have I seen righteous before Me" (כִּי אֹתְךָ רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק לְפָנַי), and Rashi commented

It does not say here "perfectly righteous" (צַדִּיק תָּמִים) as it does at the beginning of the poroshah; hence we infer that only a part of a person's good qualities are enumerated in his presence, but that in his absence all of his good qualities may be told.

Now here concerning Moses, who wrote the entire Torah, was this praise not told entirely in his presence? And our master said that perhaps this is why the word "עָנָו" (humble) is written without the letter י so that it might be equally understood (if the missing י were placed after, instead of before, the ו) as ענוי (afflicted), because Moses our teacher, may peace be upon him, was the most afflicted of men, for everyone sought to find fault with him. Even his own sister, Miriam, spoke against him, which obviously is a great affliction.

וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה עָנָו מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה

And the man Moses was very humble, more than any other men which were upon the face of the earth.(Numbers 12:3)

One may ask in what manner did Moses surpass all other individuals in the character trait of humility. And it appears to our master to explain this according to the words of the prophet (Jeremiah 9:22-23): "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands, and knows Me." For only one who is enlightened to seek the Deity and to know the sublime knowledge is fit to be glorified and praised. But not so for the one who is wise or mighty or rich, for these are all the gift of G-d. And when the prophet concludes "For in these things I delight, says the Lord," he meant to say that it is by the will of G-d that the wise man became wise, the mighty man mighty and the rich man rich.

Now we have already cited the Ran in his twelve drashot that the level to which Moses our teacher ascended to know the Eternal face to face was not owing to any preparation of his own. For it is beyond human capacity to rise up to so great an achievement, and it would have been impossible to do so without the aid of the Eternal. Only out of the necessity that the Torah be given through him did the Eternal elevate Moses to this level. Moses's greatness was thus a gift from the Almighty. (See what we have written concerning this in פרשת בלק). Moses therefore did not even take glory from his knowledge and understanding of the Eternal, because that knowledge and understanding was given to him entirely from the hand of the Eternal. And that is why he was the most humble of all men.