No Changes

The parashah opens with the command to Aharon the Kohen to light the Menorah daily in the Tabernacle. The verse then states “Va’yaas ken Aharon” — that Aharon did exactly as Hashem commanded. Rashi explains that the verse intends to inform us of the praise of Aharon in that “lo shinah” — he did not change; he did exactly as G-d commanded. The glaring question addressed by many commentaries is, “Would we expect anything different from the holy Kohen? Wouldn’t we expect that he would perform the task as best he could to give pleasure to his Maker?”

One answer is that the words ‘‘He did not change” do not refer to Aharon’s behavior. What the Torah is addressing is Aharon’s personality. Although he was given such a great honor and holy task to perform on a daily basis, “lo shinah” — he did not change, but remained humble and subservient to G-d!

A second approach is that when one does something exciting or important for the first time, one does it with great enthusiasm. As time goes on and one repeats the job every day, the glitter fades and one performs the task without any gusto, practically by rote. Aharon lit the holy candelabra every day for 39 years and yet every single day “lo shinah” — he did not change from the level of excitement and dedication he felt on Day One! We should learn from his approach to do our daily mitzvot with enthusiasm and a high level of devotion to G-d.

Another way to measure the greatness of Aharon’s performance is learned from an incident that took place in Halab (Aleppo, Syria). The head of the Jewish court, Rabbi Shelomoh Laniado, blew the shofar for many years. When he became older and no longer had the strength to blow properly, he instructed his son Rabbi Gabriel Laniado to lead the High Holy Day services and to blow the shofar.

After the services were completed, several of the leaders of the congregation came to Chacham Shelomoh and reported to him that his son erred slightly in his blowing. Rabbi Laniado called his son in and asked for an explanation for his failure.

Rabbi Ephraim explained, “When I read the prayer preceding the shofar blowing and I read the words ‘and send your angels who are appointed to carry the shofar blasts to Heaven,’ suddenly two angels flew in front of me and I became frightened and made the mistake.”

“You invited them and then when they came you became frightened?” scolded the elder Rabbi.

We learn from here the great praise in “He did not change.” Aharon entered the Holy of Holies, the place where his sons Nadav and Avihu were consumed by fire, and he felt great sorrow mixed with awesome fear — yet Aharon was cool and unshaken. He did his job and did not err. This is the praise of the true servant of G-d!

Shabbat shalom.