Rabbi Shmuel Brazil
WHAT'S IN THE NAME OF KOHEN ANYWAY | PARSHAS TETZAVEH
The parsha of Tetzaveh focuses mainly on the inauguration of Ahron and his descendants as Kohanim, and the different clothes that consecrated them for their special task. The Baal Haturim notes that the phrase לכהנו לי seems to be mentioned three times superfluously (Shmos 28,1,3,4)? The name כהן was designated to Aron at this time, as Rashi explains here that כהן means to serve. But aren't there other familiar words such as שרת or משמש which could have been used with which to title them and their avodah? Likewise the title אהרן אחיך is mentioned twice when it is well known to everyone that אהרן was the brother of Moshe? When the Torah lists the Bigday Kehuna it first mentions the חשן and then the אפד. However when it comes to the making of these special clothing the Torah precedes theאפד before the ?חשן Hashem tells Moshe to draw Ahron and his children close to himself. Was the purpose of doing so just a symbolical separation away from the rest of Klal Yisrael?
To answer all the questions above we have to first understand why Ahron merited to be a Kohen and what that title really means. When Hashem was persuading Moshe to be His messenger to redeem Yisrael from Mitzrayim Moshe was worried that by doing so he would cause pain to his brother since Ahron was the one who was the leader of Am Yisrael all these decades when Moshe was not present. Hashem responded to Moshe and said וראך ושמח בלבו not to worry for he will see you and truly rejoice in his heart over your appointment. The passuk says וראך he will see you which seems to be superfluous. We know that the nature of someone who is lying or uncomfortable in your presence he finds it difficult to look you straight into your eyes. Hashem is telling Moshe that at this encounter, Ahron will look at you and tell you how happy he is for you to be the redeemer of Am Yisrael. This joy is not superficial but rather deep in his heart through and through. What's the proof? Chazal say that because of his true love and excitement for his brother's new position, he was rewarded to wear the Choshen, the breastplate on his heart, that possesses the twelve precious stones of the Shevatim (Yalkut Shimoni Shmos 28). This testifies to Ahron's deep heartfelt love for all Yidden equally, even for his younger brother which is a relationship that usually harbors resentment, competition and jealousy. Not so by Ahron for Chazal quote the passuk of הנה מה טוב ומה נעים שבת אחים גם יחד when referring to these two brothers משה ואהרן.
Ahron incredibly did not have an iota of jealousy in him. Concerning Ahron Chazal say on him אוהב שלום ורודף שלום. If one adds up the two levels of שלום including the letters, he comes out to 760 which is gematriah ביום שבת. Shabbos represents peace and wholesomeness. אל יצא איש ממקומו ביום השבת One is not to leave his place on Shabbos. Every Yid has a special and unique place, mission, and destiny commissioned by Hashem. On Shabbos one finds peace with his place and calling. Ahron was a Shabbosdik Yid even during the week. Moshe was ענו מכל אדם the humblest person on earth. He too was void of any jealousy. מה טוב ומה נעים the word מה which is mentioned twice conveys bittul and negation as Moshe Rabbeinu said ונחנו מה (Rashi Devarim 7,7). Chazal comment
וזהו ענין מאמרם (בפ' כסוי הדם) גדול שנאמר במשה ואהרן יותר ממ"ש באברהם, דאלו באברהם כתיב ואנכי עפר ואפר, ואלו במשה ואהרן כתיב ואנחנו מה, כי עפר ואפר עכ"פ מתראה עדיין מציאות עפר, אבל מרע"ה אמר ונחנו מה כאלו אין שום מציאות בעולם כלל.
Moshe just as Ahron, was also a Shabbosdik Yid the entire week. This is hinted in the passuk above. מה טוב is referring to Moshe who was called טוב as the passuk says ותרא אותו כי טוב, and נעים refers to אהרן who was pleasant to everyone by going out of his way to make shalom with men and woman. Both Ahron and Moshe were not jealous individuals and each one possessed instead the level of מה. Therefore, the passuk continues שבת אחים which can be read Shabbos Achim. Both brothers were an aspect of Shabbos possessing flawless middos the entire week. This is supported with the gematriah from the passuk משה ואהרן בכהניו (Tehillim 99,6) with the three words equaling שבת including the word.
Ahron's actions were the opposite of the נחש in Gan Eden. The Nachash seduced Adam and Chava to eat from the prohibited Aitz Hadaas by making them jealous of Hashem. והייתם כאלקים "by eating from the tree you will be like Hashem who ate from it and created worlds". Chazal tell us that the Nachash was also jealous of the kovid that Adam Harishon was bestowed with by the malachim. The jealousy of the נחש abetted the Chait Aitz Hadaas. In contrast, Ahron who displayed an incredible happiness by not being jealous at all over his brother, merited to the חשן which was testimony to his achdus with his brother and all of Klal Yisrael. Note that the letters of חשן share the same letters as נחש.
This is why the new title of כהן was given to Ahron. The Medrash says on the passuk הן עם לבדד ישכון that this seemingly extra word ofהן serves a very deep purpose in this context. The letters from א – י as pairs add up to compose the gematraih of ten which is a wholesome number. אט, בח, גז, וד but ה which has no other match goes with ה. The same concept applies to the tens, יצ כפ לע מס however the letter נ goes with itself נ to make up the number 100 like the others. For this maamar we will interpret this Chazal as follows. The letters of the Aleph Beis symbolize individual Yidden. The two letters of אט or בח etc. symbolize two Yidden who join together to create shelaimus. Even though each of the two letters are different from each other, nevertheless אתה אחד ושמך אחד ומי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ and as it says by Matan Torah ויחן ישראל נגד ההר in a singular form. ויחן everyone found חן grace in his brethren.
However, there is a loftier level of just being echad and that is ואהבת לרעך כמוך and the כמוך like yourself means mamish really like yourself. To love someone like yourself is to be a רודף שלום and not just wait until situations come your way. כמוך means you are not jealous of your younger brother when he removes you from the limelight and becomes the leader of Am Yisrael instead of you. Ahron towards another Yid was a relationship of הה which is כמוך ממש and not only a אט בח גז דו Yid which is also a tremendous level of achdus that is not shared by the gentile nations ובגויים לא יתחשב.
Since אהרן achieved this level with his brother Moshe, he was given the title of כהן which means כlike the letters of הן which symbolize complete achdus with another Yid כמוך ממש . Your pain is mine, your simcha is mine, your worry is my worry. All his descendants, since they perform the avodah for Klal Yisrael and Hashem, are expected to strive to achieve this same level. This is what the passuk alludes to when it says ועשית בגדי קודש לאהרן אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת. You should make holy clothing for Ahron "your brother" whose display of "brotherhood" to you was לכבוד ולתפארת for your kovid not his own, for your glory not his own. All of Ahron's descendants were expected to attain such a level of הה as they are to connect Hashem and Am Yisrael through their avodah. That is why Hashem commands Moshe who is a Kohen at this time, to bring close towards him אהרן and his children to become Kohanim and fulfill what the title demands from them. Moshe together with Ahron על פי שנים עדים יקום דבר, who manifested these two levels of מה , can infuse and inherit Ahron's children with the ideal of כמוך ממש , in order to forge a הה relationship with Am Yisrael.
This is why the Torah commences the list of the Priests clothing with the חשן for that was the testimony to Ahron's special level of Ahavas Yisrael, that it penetrated the most inner part of his heart. encompassed all his heart. It was the Choshen that he merited to wear on his heart as a testimony to his incredible high madreigah of כמוך ממש.
הנה מה טוב ומה נעים שבת אחים גם יחד
- Rabbi Shmuel Brazil