ZotHabracha-Moshe Rabeinu

When Moshe passed away (at the end of our parsha, Zot Habracha), the Torah tells us that the “children of Israel” mourned his passing (Deut 34:8).  Rashi explains that the “children of Israel” refers to the men.  This contrasts poorly with Moshe’s brother Aharon, who passed away and “the entire house of Israel mourned” (Num 20:29).  The implication is that there was something missing in Moshe’s level of ahavat Yisrael – love for a fellow Jew – and that is why only the men mourned for him and not the women.

However, that does not make much sense in light of Moshe’s history, which included a number of outstanding acts of ahavat Yisrael.  Here are two examples: When Moshe found an Egyptian man striking a Jew and he endangered his own life to save the Jews, and when God offered to destroy the Jewish people and supplant them with Moshe’s family, which Moshe protested strongly, saying, “if so, then erase me from Your book.”  These two instances alone establish Moshe as a lover of Jews of the first order, as the Talmud (Menachot 65A) says.  So, we are forced to say that while Moshe was not lacking in love of a fellow Jew, there was a certain aspect of love that he did not possess, and his brother Aharon did possess in great quantities.

The love that Aharon possessed enabled him to “make peace between man and wife, between man and his neighbor.”  It was this level that was missing from Moshe’s approach.  Aharon managed to express this kind of love because he was able to “bend the truth” in order to bring people together.  Moshe, however, was a “man of truth.”  His approach required him to be absolutely truthful and honest at all times.  His task was to bring the Torah down to the Jewish people from Above to below, and to do so, it was absolutely necessary that he stick to the details and not bend any of them when presenting the Torah to the Jews.  For this reason, Moshe was known as the “man of truth” (in the Midrash and Talmud).  It is permitted to deviate from the truth in order to preserve the peace, but Moshe’s job precluded him from participating him in such “peace-making.”

Aharon, on the other hand, was required to actively “bend the truth” in order to make peace among the Jews.  The benefit of his approach was that by making small, diplomatic “adjustments” to the truth, he could rectify the most difficult situations.  The benefit of Moshe’s approach was that he stuck to the truth under all circumstances, without deviating one iota.

Moshe realized the advantage of his brother Aharon’s approach only near the end of his life, when he had time to contemplate and consider the past.  Nevertheless, we might ask why, if Moshe was a “man of truth,” did he not stick to this path of absolute truth to the very end of his life.  The answer is that Moshe’s passing from this world was not a simple matter.  It was an aliya, a spiritual ascent to a higher level, that enabled him to detect the higher level in Aharon’s approach, and this could only occur at the end of his life, as he ascended to the “fiftieth gate of understanding.”

The other thing we can learn from Moshe’s passing was that his thoughts were not on himself but rather on his brother Aharon.  Even as he himself went from one level to another, he was thinking about and learning from the great level of his brother Aharon, who “pursued shalom, and inspired shalom between man and his fellow and between wives and their husbands,” who was therefore beloved by “all” of the Jewish nation.

For a longer more detailed version, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 24, page 253-258

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