Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshas Vaera 5769

This weeks Parsha sees the start of the Ten plagues and the punishment of the Egyptians for the manner in which they had oppressed the Jews.  Before the plagues start, the Torah first gives the lineage of Moses and Aaron.  This discussion of lineage finishes off with: “הוּא אַהֲרֹן, וּמֹשֶׁה” “This is Aaron and Moshe”.  And on this Rashi notes:  sometimes Aaron is mentioned first, and at other time Moshe is mentioned first to show they are equals.

To state that Moshe and Arron are equals seems strange- isn’t one of the first things children learn that Moshe was the greatest of all prophets?  That Moshe is the only person to have seen the face of G-d and to have such a level of prophecy that unlike other prophets he did not need preparation before he talked to G-d?  And yet, Rashi notes that the Torah states that Moshe and Arron were equals!  To help illustrate this point, HaRav Moshe Feinstein gives the following commentary in Darash Moshe: Just like in business one partner may be seniour to another- they are like equals in that the business will fail if the juniour partner is not there.  Similarly, without Aaron the Jews would not have been redeemed from Egypt- thus he is the equal of Moshe in that he is his partner in the redemption of the Jews.

Rav Moshe also brings a story from Bava Basra (10b) to illustrate another lesson from here: Yosef, the son of  R’ Yehoshua was lying dying and slipped into a coma, appearing to be dead.  When he revived his father asked him:  “What did you see?”  He replied”  I saw an upside down world.  the superior ones were at the bottom, the inferior ones at the top”.  R’ Yehoshua said “You saw true”.  What lesson did Rav Moshe teach from this?  That Hashem sees true, that for him it is not the relative positions in this world that count, though those that were superior remain superior- but that the reward is for the effort and the work the person put into achieving what they did.  Someone may have been inferior in this world: but hey worked hard to achieve even the little they did have- for them it was a major effort involving every fibre of their being.  That person, because they invested so much of themselves into what they did, overcame such barriers, internal and external, will receive a great reward in the world to come- even more than the superior in this world that achieved without the effort.

This is a very important lesson for many of us, especially those, like myself, who are chozeret b’teshuvah.  For us, we will most likely never achieve the exalted holiness, or undertsanding, or knowledge that those who were fortunate enough to be born int frum families and to receive a strong Jewish education from an early age have; but that is not important.  What is important is that we achive what we can as oursleves- that we invest ourselves into achieving as much as we can.  If we invest ourselves into it, push ourselves as high as WE can go- Hashem will not ask us why we were not great Rabbonim- but Hashem will reward us for what we did- we can be amongst the inferior who are above the superior if we wish.  Of course, if we could all become as learned as R’ Akivah that would be even better; so study and aim for it- but be happy with what you achieve without letting depression and dissapointment drive you away from trying.


January 20, 2009 - Posted by | Parshah, Torah | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

    Comment by Allen Taylor | January 20, 2009 | Reply

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