April 16, 2024
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Zera Shimshon on Parshas Tzav

צַו אֶת אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה הִוא הָעֹלָה עַל מוֹקְדָה עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כָּל הַלַּיְלָה עַד הַבֹּקֶר וְאֵשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ תּוּקַד בּוֹ

Command Aharon and his sons saying, “These are the laws of the oleh. The oleh should stay on the place that it burnt on the mizbeach the whole night until the morning. The fire of the mizbeach should stay burnt on it.”

The Medrash points out something very interesting; even though Parshas Vayikra speaks of the laws of korbonos, in none of those commandments is Aharon mentioned. All of the commandments in that parsha are directed towards b’nei Aharon, the children of Aharon and not towards Aharon himself! The second pasuk in our parsha is the first time that Hashem tells Moshe to command Aharon.

The Medrash explains that Moshe noticed this and understood the reason for this was that Hashem was upset with Aharon and that this was a punishment for his part in the sin of the Golden Calf. This greatly disturbed Moshe and he therefore approached Hashem to argue and to defend his brother.

Moshe argued, how can someone detest a certain pit of water but enjoy the water that came from that pit? Meaning, how can Hashem honor Aharon’s children (to mention them in Parshas Vayikra) but not their father?

The Medrash concludes: although Hashem did not accept this argument to forgive Aharon, Hashem finally did concede to Moshe, but in the merit of Moshe and not because of his argument.

Zera Shimshon asks in the name of the sefer Lev Aryeh (witten by R’ Yehudah Aryeh Leib of Boisk in 1647), that it seems that the wording of Moshe’s argument is backwards. Moshe argued that Aharon should be honored and be mentioned in the Torah, and therefore he should have said to Hashem, how can one enjoy the water that comes from a water pit but detest the pit itself? This would imply that Moshe was bothered by why Aharon was not mentioned in Parshas Vayikra. However, Moshe didn’t say this but he said, how can someone detest the pit of water but enjoy the water that comes out of that pit? This implies that Moshe questioned how Hashem could find favor in Aharon’s children. Seemingly, this is not what bothered Moshe.

Zera Shimshon also asks another question. What exactly was the merit of Moshe that convinced Hashem to forgive Aharon and to address him in our parsha, Tzav?

Zera Shimshon explains the first question in light of Rashi on the pasuk (Devarim 9/20), “Uv’Aharon his’a’naf Hashem m’ode l’hash’mee’do,” Hashem was very angry with Aharon to destroy him. Rashi explains, “L’hash’mee’do: zeh kil’uy bawnim,” to destroy him: This means to annihilate his children. Meaning, that Hashem punished Aharon for his part in the making of the Golden Calf by decreeing that his children should die. In the end, Moshe davened for them and he saved two of them, Nadav and Avihu. However, for Aharon’s part in the Golden Calf, he deserved to be punished and his other children died.

From this Rashi we see that Aharon’s children were meant to die not as a punishment for their own deeds but really as a punishment for Aharon. Therefore, it cannot be that Moshe simply davened to save b’nei Aharon, since they were not meant to die because of what they did. Rather Moshe davened to forgive Aharon for what he did and as a result of this, his children were saved.

According to this, Zera Shimshon answers the Lev Aryeh’s question. Moshe’s argument wasn’t, since Hashem honored B’nei Aharon by mentioning them in Parshas Vayikra, Hashem should have also honored Aharon himself and directed the commandments in Parshas Vayikra towards him. If this would be the case, Moshe should have worded his argument: how can someone enjoy the water that comes out of a pit but detest the pit of water from which that water was drawn? Rather, his argument was that Aharon’s not being mentioned in Parshas Vayikra implies that Hashem was still angry with him, and if so, since the punishment of this anger was to be executed on his children, like we see by two of his children died because of Aharon’s part in the Golden Calf, how can it be that he honored Aharon’s children by directing the mitzvos of the kehuna towards them?

This is meaning of the mashal Moshe argued to Hashem: how can someone detest a certain pit of water—as seen by Hashem not mentioning Aharon’s name in Parshas Vayikra—but enjoy the water that came from that pit, by mentioning Aharon’s sons in Parshas Vayikra even though that the punishment of Aharon was executed on his children!

Now let us explore the answer to the second question; What was the merit of Moshe that convinced Hashem to mention Aharon in our parsha?

Hashem’s original plan, before the incident of the Burning Bush, was to make Moshe and his descendants the Kohanim. However, Hashem took this status away from him and gave it to Aharon and his children at the Burning Bush because Moshe did not immediately accept the leadership of Klal Yisroel.

According to this, after the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe was in the position to ask Hashem to restore the original plan for him to be the Kohain. Why, now, is Aharon better than Moshe since they both sinned?

Moshe, however, did not do that. Not only did he not ask to get back the kehuna but, on the contrary, he defended his brother and pleaded to Hashem to strengthen Aharon’s hold on it!

When Hashem saw Moshe forfeit his claim in favor of his brother, Hashem answered that He would do the same. If Moshe who is only flesh and blood can forfeit his rights to the kehuna to honor his brother, I (Hashem) who is The Master of Mercy can surely honor Aharon.

This is the meaning of, “In the merit of Moshe, Aharon is mentioned in the parsha.” In the merit of Moshe honoring his brother and forfeiting his rights to the kehuna for the benefit of Aharon, Hashem overlooked Aharon’s part in the Golden Calf and honored him by addressing him in Parshas Tzav.

To summarize; Aharon is not mentioned in Parshas Vayikra but his sons are mentioned. He is only mentioned in the next parsha, Parshas Tzav. The medrash explains the reason for this is that initially Hashem didn’t mention him as a punishment for his part in the making of the golden calf. Moshe was upset with this, and argued to Hashem that this is similar to one who detests a pit of water but enjoys the water that comes from this pit. This cannot be.

Zera Shimshon asks in the name of the Laiv Aryeh that from Moshe’s wording it seems like his main concern was why B’nei Aharon were honored by mentioning them in Vayikra. This, however, isn’t true—Moshe’s main concern was why wasn’t Aharon being honored and not why his children were!

He answers in light of Rashi who writes that the punishment that Aharon received for his making the Golden Calf was that some of his children died. This being so, we can understand that Moshe’s argument here was that since Aharon’s children are mentioned in Parshas Vayikra it must be that Hashem forgave Aharon for what he did and if that would be true there is no reason for Aharon not to be mentioned in Parshas Vayikra.

Hashem didn’t accept this argument but he conceded to Moshe’s wish because Moshe himself honored Aharon even when there was good reason not to.

HaRav Shimshon Nachmani, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about “practical kabbolo” and asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

HaRav Shimshon Nachmani had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name “Zera Shimshon”) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies “… And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things… and wealth and honor…”

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