17 Jul 2015 Aharon, the Man of Peace
In the final parsha of the book of Bamidbar, Parshas Masei, we are reminded of the death of Aharon HaKohen.
“And Aharon the Kohen went up to הֹר הָהָר by the mouth of Hashem and died there, in the fortieth year after the Bnei Yisrael went forth from the land of Egypt, (and he died) in the fifth month on the first of the month. And Aharon was one hundred and twenty-three years old at his death on הֹר הָהָר” (Bamidbar 33:38-39).
Today, Erev Shabos Kodesh, Rosh Chodesh Av, the first of the fifth month (counting from Nissan), is the yarzheit of Aharon the Kohen. Righteous Aharon who would pursue peace and instill love between parties to a quarrel and between a man and his wife (See Rashi to Bamidbar 20:29).
The Sages exhort us to follow in the path of Aharon:
הוי מתלמידיו של אהרן, אוהב שלום ורודף שלום, אוהב את הבריות ומקרבן לתורה – Hillel said: Be of the students of Aharon, love peace and pursue peace, love creatures and draw them close to Torah (Avos 1:12).
It happened one year that Hudi, a talmid from America, went away for the Shabos between Yom Kippur and Succos, leaving the lulav he had purchased near his bed in the dormitory. When Hudi returned to his dorm room in Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim, he found that his lulav had become passul (not kosher for use) in his absence. “What happened?” Hudi asked his roommate. “Oh,” the roommate replied, “my friend came for Shabos and needed a place to sleep…I figured you wouldn’t mind.” While Hudi’s space was being used, his lulav was damaged.
Hudi was very upset and went to consult with Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt’l, the Rosh Yeshiva.
“Lots of people bring me lulavim because they want me to use their lulav,” Rav Nosson Tzvi replied. “Come to my house later and choose a lulav from my collection.”
Later that day, Hudi went to the Rosh Yeshiva’s home and found several beautiful lulavim laid out on the table. He chose one and asked the Rosh Yeshiva how much he owed for the lulav. Rav Nosson Tzvi wouldn’t take the full price, insisting that Hudi pay him the price he had paid for his first lulav – which was less than half the value of this lulav!
“But I am doing this on one condition,” Rav Nosson Tzvi said. “You can’t bear a grudge against your roommate.” Hudi agreed and went back to yeshiva, elated at the thought of using this beautiful and precious lulav on Succos… Only later did Hudi find out that the Rosh Yeshiva had not had any extra lulavim at all! He had asked family members to put all their lulavim on the table, so that Hudi could choose from the “extra” lulavim that the Rosh Yeshiva had in his possession.
Rav Nosson Tzvi was always meticulous in his mitzvah observance – and the mitzvah of promoting peace was as important as the others. (Rav Nosson Tzvi, Artscroll 2012, p.392-393)
As we usher in the painful “9 Days” of mourning and as we recall the destruction of both Temples, let us embrace the legacy of Aharon HaKohen, the lover of peace.
The very last Mishnah in the Six Orders of Mishnayos teaches that לא מצא הקב״ה כלי מחזיק ברכה לישראל אלא השלום – Hashem found no greater vessel of blessing for Israel than peace (Oktzim 3:12).
As we enter into these mournful “9 Days” of Av, as we mourn the destruction of the second Temple for our sins of baseless hatred, strife and dissent, as we cry over our past, let us ponder our future. For every generation that does not see the Temple rebuilt, it is as if that generation destroyed it (Yerushalmi, Yoma 1:1).
May we be the generation of redemption and rebuilding, in the merit of enhancing, instilling and striving for peace amongst our people.
It is the yarzheit of Aharon HaKohen, זכותו יגן עלינו. Let us be of his students: those who love and pursue peace and bring others close to Torah.
Wishing you all a meaningful Shabos,