Word for the Week ... Shmos
Rabbi Simche Sherer
The Jewish people had been busy inaugurating the Mishkan, the sanctuary in the wilderness and G-d's first official dwelling place on earth. A whole week of consecrations and offerings had taken place but still there was no sign from Above. Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, was very disappointed. In his humility, he assumed it was his fault. After all, hadn't he been an accomplice - albeit unwittingly - to the sin of the golden calf? Surely, the Almighty was displeased with him and therefore there was no sign of acceptance from heaven.
Moshe, his brother, stepped forward and offered a special prayer and immediately the Shechinah - the Divine Presence - rested upon Israel. He then blessed the people with the words that would become the concluding verse of Psalm 90: "May the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us.....may he establish the work of our hands for us." Then all the Children of Israel beheld how Aharon was indeed the chosen one and they were overjoyed that their work was now, finally, blessed by G-d. It is a beautiful and touching story of filial love. No ego, no one-upmanship, no envy - only a pure untainted love between two brothers.
This act is contrasted with previous brotherly encounters in the Torah. With the very first brothers on earth, the world got off to a very bad start with Cain killing Abel in a fit of jealousy. Later, Avraham's sons, Yitzchak and Yishmael, didn't exactly get on like a house on fire either; indeed, their enmity continues unabated to this day! The next generation wasn't much better: Yaakov and Eisav were caught up in sibling rivalry almost all their lives. The saga continued into the next generation with Yossef and his brothers. They nearly killed him and, in the end, "only" sold him into slavery. How refreshingly different, then, that Moshe and Aharon were so supportive of one another.
sweet, how beautiful, as the Psalmist sings, "Behold,
how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity"
What an important message for us today. Whether it is in Israel on the political front or in our own communal lives, so often we are our own worst enemies. If Israel and all her associated support groups spoke with one voice we would be so much stronger in our international interface. If Jewish organizations could act in concert instead of constantly competing with one another - or worse still, undermining each other - all our communities would be healthier.
Please G-d, may we all take a cue from Moshe and Aharon and the presence of G-d will dwell upon us too!