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 [email@example.com] Sent: Friday, May 24, 2002 5:35 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.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]
YOM HASHOAH AND TISHA BEAV
BY RABBI HOWARD JACHTER
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