June 23rd, 2016

Behaalotecha begins with four pesukim that record the instructions given to Aharon Hakohen about lighting the Menorah in the Temple. This short section appears immediately after the description of the gifts and sacrifices given by the princes of each tribe at the dedication of the Mishkan.

The proximity is striking, and the Midrash posits an explanation that the Menorah duties were offered to Aharon to console him after it became evident how upset he was that his tribe, Levi, had no prince, and was therefore unable to participate in the gift giving.

Rashi and Ramban offer very different understandings of the Midrash, both trying to make sense of this seemingly bizarre explanation. After all, it appears to be quite petty for Aharon to have become upset by the princes’ gifts, and even stranger that the Menorah duties would have been enough to pacify him.

Rabbi Dunner looks at both Rashi and Ramban to discover why each of them might have preferred their own explanation, and suggests a way to reconcile both interpretations that provides an inspiring message to can light up our lives, just as the Menorah lit up the Temple sanctuary.

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