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     In  an attempted defense of the midrash, the Ramban proposes that Aharon's jealousy stemmed not from a  sense that  his  honor  had been slighted, but  rather  from  a recognition  that  the  nesi'im  had  VOLUNTEERED   their korbanot.   Aharon coveted the spontaneity and creativity which   that  sense  of  good-will  afforded  them.    In contrast,  Aharon's  role, though important,  was  not  a matter  of choice, and he understood that this obligation might  lead  to a mechanical performance of  his  duties. The Ramban ultimately rejects this explanation because it fails to explain why granting him another obligation (the lighting of the menora) should console him.

     It  is  to  this last point in the  Ramban  that  I address  my words.  Although the Ramban felt it illogical that  the  Torah  should try to remedy the  situation  by adding  to Aharon's obligations, it seems to me  that  in doing   so,  the  Torah  was  actually  solving  Aharon's problem.   The  Rambam writes (Hilkhot  Kelei  Ha-mikdash 3:1):  "It  is a positive commandment for Levites  to  be available  and  ready  to perform  their  duties  in  the Temple,  whether they wish to do so or not ..."  However, Aharon erred in his conclusion that coerced duties  would be  devoid  of  any  spiritual content  and  spontaneity; rather, only through a sense of obligation and unwavering commitment   could  he  achieve  religious   fulfillment. Therefore,   G-d   presented  him  with   an   additional obligation, to demonstrate that only through a  sense  of total commitment could he attain true spontaneity in  his worship.

      This   message  is  particularly  relevant  today. Western culture has slowly crept into the beit midrash  - not Western culture symbolized by earrings and long hair, but  rather  something more subtle.  Individualism  is  a hallmark of the Western world, and one's right to do that which is most pleasing to him is taken for granted.  This sense  of liberalism has had a marked impact in the  beit midrash.  No longer is the sense of obligation (which the Torah  stressed to Aharon as the ideal) widespread  among the  "yoshvei beit ha-midrash."  A subjective  preference to  learn  in one's room rather than in the beit midrash, or   to  learn  some  books  rather  than  others,  takes precedence.    In   contrast  to   this   new   wave   of independence,  the Maharal quotes an appropriate  midrash (Netivot Olam, Netiv Ahavat Ha-reia, chapter one):  "'The one  lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the  other lamb shalt thou offer in the evening'" (Bamidbar 28:4)  – zeh klal gadol ba-Torah, this is a major principle of the Torah."  The message is clear: consistency stemming  from a sense of obligation is a basic tenet in service of G-d.

    In my life, I have had personal experience regarding the  importance of this message.  I had two  very  gifted friends with me in yeshiva, one of whom was a free spirit doing as he pleased.  When the yeshiva slept, he learned, and  when  it learned, he slept.  If the yeshiva  learned Zevachim  or  Bava  Kama,  he learned  Menachot  or  Bava Metzia.   My  second friend was very disciplined,  always doing  what  he was supposed to do.  Both of  my  friends became  important people, but my disciplined friend,  who always  felt  a  sense  of obligation,  became  the  more creative  and  spontaneous of the two.   He  developed  a strong base for himself which allowed him to continue  to grow.   By  contrast,  my  other friend  wasted  so  much creative energy, never doing what he was supposed  to  do and  solely  doing what he wanted to, that his  potential remains untapped.

      Aharon  heeded  the  message  of  the  Torah   and internalized   it.   The  Torah  states   regarding   the commandment  to  light the menora, "and  so  did  Aharon" (Bamidbar 8:3).  Rashi there comments that this statement intends  "to  praise Aharon that he did  not  alter"  the procedure   which   the   Torah   instituted   for   him. Apparently, Aharon understood that service out of a sense of   obligation,  performed  with  consistency,  was  the preferred  path in avodat Hashem (divine  service).   We, too,  should hearken to this message, understand it,  and implement it in our daily lives as benei Torah and  ovdei Hashem.

(Originally delivered at Seuda Shelishit, Shabbat Parashat Beha'alotekha 5757.)

Yeshivat Har Etzion's Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash is on the world wide web at http://www.vbm-torah.org Yeshivat Har Etzion Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash Alon Shevut, Gush Etzion 90433 E-Mail: Yhe@Etzion.Org.Il Or Office@Etzion.Org.Il


From: Kol Torah [koltorah@hotmail.com] Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 5:35 PM To: koltorah@koltorah.org Subject: Parshat Naso

KOL TORAH A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of  Bergen County Parshat Naso 14 Sivan 5762 May 25, 2002 Vol.11 No.28  

[From last week]



Introduction    Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik was less than enthusiastic about our practice to  observe Yom Hashoah (see Nefesh Harav pp.197-198) on the twenty-seventh of  Nissan.  He felt that we should integrate mourning and remembering the  Holocaust into our observance of Tisha Beav.  In this essay, we seek to  demonstrate how a seemingly peculiar opinion of the Rambam might support Rav  Soloveitchik's argument.  This essay is based on studies with my cousin  Yehuda Brandriss of Efrat, Israel.

Gemara Rosh Hashana 18b    The Gemara cites the verse in Zecharia chapter eight that states, "The fast  of the fourth [month - Shiva Asar Betammuz], the fast of the fifth [month -  Tisha Beav], the fast of the seventh [month - Tzom Gedalia], and the fast of  the tenth [month - Asara Betevet] will be for the House of Judah [times of]  joy and jubilation."  The Gemara notes the contradiction in the verse, as it  describes these days as a joyous and yet as days of fasting.  The Gemara  cites Rav Papa's explanation that the Pasuk alludes to three different  historical periods.

Ritva and Rambam    The Ritva and Rambam argue whether Jews observed Tisha Beav during the  period when the Second Temple functioned.  The Ritva (Rosh Hashana 18b  s.v.U'farkinan) explains that "a time of peace" refers to a time when there  is Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael and the Bait Hamikdash is  functioning.  He explains that "a time of government decrees" refers to a  time when the Bait Hamikdash is destroyed and Jews are being persecuted.   The intermediate period is when the Bait Hamikdash is destroyed and the Jews  are not being persecuted.  According to the Ritva, none of the fasts were  observed during the period of the Second Temple.  Rashi (Rosh Hashana 18b  s.v.  Detalinhu Bebinyan) appears to agree with the Ritva.    The Rambam, on the other hand in his commentary to the Mishna (Rosh Hashana  1:3) believes that the Jews did fast on Tisha Beav during the period of the  Second Temple "because of the many tragedies that occurred on this day."    Intuitively, the Ritva appears to be much more logical and convincing.  It  appears counterintuitive to observe Tisha Beav when the Bait Hamikdash is  functioning.  The Rambam, though, apparently believes that Tisha Beav is not  a day devoted exclusively to mourning for the Bait Hamikdash.  Rather, it  includes mourning for all of the destructions and pogroms that occurred to  the Jewish People throughout the ages.  A proof to this is the venerated  Ashkenazic practice to recite Kinot for the tragedies caused by the  Crusaders to the German Jewish communities of Speyers, Worms, and Mayence  and the venerated Sephardic practice to recite Kinot for the expulsion from  Spain and Portugal.  Therefore, since the establishment of the second Bait  Hamikdash did not constitute an end to Jewish suffering, the Jewish People  continued to fast on Tisha Beav.  Of course, the Rambam (Hilchot Taaniot  5:19) agrees that when the Mashiach will arrive, all of the fasts will be  transformed into days of rejoicing.  My cousin Yehuda Brandriss adds that  when the Mashiach will arrive we will recognize that all of our collective  tragedies and suffering were part of the historical process that was  necessary for the Mashiach to arrive.  Thus, we will view our earlier  sorrows as cause for celebration, because these tragedies set the stage for  the arrival of the Mashiach.    According to this approach, we understand the aforementioned comment of the  Maggid Mishneh, that we must observe all of the fasts until the Bait  Hamikdash will be rebuilt.  Why do not we say that when there is a serious  presence of Jews in Eretz Yisrael that we may cease observing Tzom Gedalia  (which mourns the loss of the last bastion of organized Jewish settlement in  Israel, as explained by Rambam Hilchot Taaniot 5:2)?  Why do we not say that  


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