Chukat – The Value of Aharon

The nation had three leaders, Moshe, Aharon and Miriam, and with the passing of the latter two, Israel lost the advantage of the wells and the cloud over their camp. R’ SR Hirsch commented that the cloud had been protective, but without it, Israel was defenceless and subject to attacks from neighbouring tribes. He mentioned that Israel had always known that the condition for their national existence was moral strength alone and he quoted from Micah that G-d had sent them Moshe, Aharon and Miriam. He wrote that the work of these three personalities was their teaching and their influence on mind and heart.

 

Micah referred to the norms of justice, the love of love, and modesty which was Miriam’s influence.  Aharon’s activity centred around this “ahavat chessed” the love of love. This was described by R’  Hirsch as the heart’s inclination to joyfully relinquish what one is entitled to. Compassion was described as the willingness to make sacrifices for others. Aharon’s priciple was “to love peace, to pursue peace, and bring peace between one person and another”.

 

The magnitude of his loss was felt by all. Only a few days earlier, the people had heaped upon Aharon grave accusations and unjust complaints, yet now all classes of the people deeply mourned him. This deep mourning for Aharon teaches us that all those revolts that had troubled the lives of Aharon and Moshe were only passing incidents of unrest, brought about by momentary moods of despair. In its normal state, the people knew and appreciated the merits of its great leaders.

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