Tetzaveh: Man of Peace

A Team Effort

Moses is true and his Torah is true (Talmud, Bava Batra 74a)

Be of the disciples of Aaron; one who loves peace, pursues peace, loves God’s creatures and draws them close to Torah (Ethics of the Fathers 1:12)

Moses was the greatest prophet in Jewish history. He brought the Jews out of Egypt, received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, and led his people in the wilderness for 40 years. Yet the Lubavitcher Rebbe reminds us that another great man was always at Moses’ side: his older brother Aaron, an individual of unparalleled benevolence who didn’t resent Moses for his privileged upbringing in the palace or status as God’s chosen messenger. Leading the Jewish people was a team effort.

Moses and Aaron’s roles were different yet complementary, as we see in this week’s parsha, Tetzaveh. Moses is responsible for bringing oil to light the ever-burning menorah in the Mishkan (Tabernacle), while Aaron is in charge of actually lighting the menorah. Both Moses and Aaron’s unique gifts were required to turn a notoriously stiff-necked people into God’s representatives on earth and a light unto the nations. The Midrash characterizes each man’s personal characteristics by referring to a verse from Psalms, “Benevolence and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.” (Ps. 85:11) Aaron represents benevolence and peace, while Moses represents truth and righteousness. 

Righteous Moses brought the truth from Mount Sinai; benevolent Aaron helped the people live peacefully by that truth. Moses brings the oil, Aaron lights it. 

May we be inspired by these great men to always strive for truth and benevolently share it with others!

Dedicated by Steve Potter

Image: “Aaron, High Priest of the Israelites” by Anton Kern, 1747 (detail)

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