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Parashat Behaalotecha: Never be Satisfied

Parashat Behaalotecha begins with the command concerning the lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan, and Rashi comments that this command was given in order to "console" Aharon. The previous section – the final section of Parashat Naso – described the special gifts brought by the Nesi’im, the twelve tribal leaders, in honor of the dedication of the Mishkan. The leader of every tribe brought several lavish gifts and numerous animals for sacrifices to G-d. The only tribe that did not participate in this event was Aharon’s tribe, the tribe of Levi. Unlike the leaders of all the other tribes, Aharon did not bring a special gift and special sacrifices for the Mishkan’s inauguration. Aharon was distressed over having been excluded from this event, and thus Hashem told Moshe to console Aharon by reminding him of the special privilege he had to kindle the Menorah each day.

The Ramban (Rav Moshe Nahmanides, Spain, 1194-1270) raises the question of why Aharon would have felt distressed over not participating in the Mishkan’s dedication. He was selected from among the entire nation to be the Kohen Gadol, who is granted several unique privileges, including the privilege of entering the Kodesh Ha’kodashim – the most sacred chamber in the Mishkan – on Yom Kippur each year. Given his special status, why would his exclusion from the Mishkan’s dedication have mattered? Why did he need the comfort of being reminded of his privileges as Kohen Gadol?

Rav Yerucham Levovitz of the Mir Yeshiva (1873-1936) explained that when it comes to Misvot, righteous people are indeed "greedy." Their love for Misvot is so overpowering that they are never content, and always want more. Just as a wealthy person always looks to increase his fortune, and is never satisfied with what he has, a spiritually "wealthy" person is never satisfied with his "fortune." He is always looking for more Misva opportunities. And thus despite all the special Misvot Aharon was able to perform by virtue of his position as Kohen Gadol, he was never satisfied, and he felt distressed by every missed opportunity to perform yet another Misva.

Our Sages make a similar comment about Moshe Rabbenu. Moshe’s "resume" included accomplishments that no human being could ever possibly come close to matching, such as leading Beneh Yisrael out of Egypt, splitting the sea, and spending forty days with G-d receiving the Torah without eating or drinking. And yet, the Gemara says, Moshe pleaded with G-d to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael so he could perform the Misvot that are unique to the Land of Israel. Moshe did not need to enter Eretz Yisrael to establish his legacy of greatness, but this did not matter. His love for Misvot was so immense that he was constantly seeking more opportunities.

The Hafetz Haim (Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin, 1839-1933) was once seen walking about outside his home on a frigid, snowy night. A family member was asked what he was doing outside in those conditions, and it was discovered that he was doing this already for three consecutive nights. He had not yet recited Birkat Ha’lebana that month, and so he was waiting outside every night to see if the clouds would dissipate for a moment to allow him to see the moon and recite the Beracha. The Hafetz Haim was already a world-renowned Sage and author of groundbreaking Torah works. If he would have missed Birkat Ha’lebana that month, his stature of greatness would not have been compromised one iota. But this did not matter. He loved Misvot and passionately sought each and every opportunity he could get to perform them.

This is the lesson we should learn from Aharon Ha’kohen. When it comes to spirituality, we should be greedy. We must never be satisfied with what we’ve accomplished, and should always be striving to reach even greater and loftier heights, one Misva at a time.

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