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Shemini : Being the One Who Starts

Published on Friday May 7th, 2021

In Parshat Shemini (9:23) it is written: "Moshe and Aharon entered into the tent of meeting, and they came out and blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord dwelled amid the entire people."

Rashi writes: "When Aharon witnessed that all the offerings had been presented and the services had been performed, but the Shechina had not yet spread among Israel, he was deeply grieved and said to himself," I know that the Holy One Blessed be He is angry at me, and I am the cause the Shechina is not dwelling amid the People of Israel. "He said to Moshe, "Moshe, my brother, this is what you did to me, I went into the tent and now I am ashamed." And when Moses came into the tent with his brother, they implored God’s mercy, and the Shechina descended to dwell among the People of Israel. "

Based on this passage, the Mussar masters urge everyone to draw inspiration from Aharon's conduct which, rather than blame others, chose to take full responsibility for the absence of the Shechina. In turn, we must be careful not to blame others for our mistakes, but rather to do our own soul searching and seek ways to improve our own behavior.

What does this look like in reality?

There was a community of low-income people who gathered in their synagogue to discuss the coming Simchat Torah festival.

"You know what?” said one of them, “in the rich people’s synagogue, the congregants are offered a glass of wine each time they complete a dance around the Ark?”

"Of course," sighed his friend. “These are people of means. As for us, even if we would like to emulate their custom, where would we find the funds to afford such luxury?”

“I have an idea !” exclaimed a third party. Let’s install a cask of wine in a corner of the synagogue and every day, each one of us will pour a small glass of wine in it. When Simchat Torah arrives, we will have a full barrel! "

The faithful welcomed this idea joyously and pledged to apply this wonderful plan.

“On the eve of the festival,  we opened the barrel ... but, to our horror and distress, it was completely filled with water!” The faithful looked at one another, but no one dared utter the slightest comment, for each one knew very well that he, personally poured water instead of wine. Not before long, the prank was discovered. "My brothers will probably pour wine”, assumed each of the congregants. “Nobody will notice if I am the only one to pour water instead”. And that's how the wine barrel was filled with water!

The same applies to the spiritual sphere. Deep down, we are all aware of our obligation to correct our faults. The problem is that we often wait for others to start rectifying theirs, rather than take action and be the first to do so.

Rav David HADDAD - © Torah-Box Account

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