Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Where Have You Gone Aaron haKohen?
Published: Friday, July 13, 2018 10:08:07 AM
Number of views: 50

To paraphrase Simon and Garfunkel’s great song, “Where have you gone Aaron haKohen, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you!”

Why is Aaron haKohen's Yahrzeit the only one mentioned in the Torah? None of the Avot or the Imahot were accorded such an honor and not even Moshe Rabbenu. Only the date of the death of Aaron is mentioned. Why?

Aaron's Yahrtzeit is the first day of the month of Av, and the Jewish calendar is structured so that Parshat Masei which records Aaron's death is read before Tisha B'Av. Why?

The Mishnah in Avot states that "Aaron loved peace and pursued peace". With his passing, disputes and divisiveness increased. The Talmud in Yoma 9 attributes the destruction of the Second Temple to "baseless hatred" ,Sinat Chinam, and divisiveness among Jews.

The destruction of both Temples was on Tisha B'Av.

The Yahrzeit of Aaron alone emphasizes the critical importance of his character traits, which are "loving peace, pursuing peace" and avoiding Machlokot. Thus, his Yahrzeit is in Parshat Masei, which is read before Tisha B'Av, to teach us that Aaron's exemplary behavior is the TIKUN (repair) of SINAT CHINAM, which caused the tragedies of Tisha B'Av.

Why did G-d choose Aaron to be the Kohen Godel and to wear the Golden Vestments?

The Torah states, "And Aaron shall bear the judgment of the Children of Israel on his heart constantly before G-D" (Shemot 28:30). This verse is a reference to the CHOSHEN-BREAST PLATE, which Aaron wore over his heart. This breast plate was folded in half to form a pocket into which was placed a parchment containing G-D's Ineffable Name. This was called the Urim VeTumim, which caused the letters of the names of the Tribes of Israel which were inscribed on the CHOSHEN to light up with answers to questions of national importance.

The merit of wearing the CHOSHEN was given to Aaron because of his special character. When he went to greet Moshe, after Moshe had been selected by G-D to lead the Jews out of Egypt, he came with a smile and a glad heart. As the Torah states, "And when he (Aaron) sees you (Moshe) he will rejoice in his heart" (Shemot 4).

This remarkable love for a younger brother, who will replace him as leader, was rewarded with the CHOSHEN that Aaron wore over his heart that rejoiced for his younger brother.

Was it so difficult to rejoice for a younger brother's good fortune? Does Aaron deserve such an amazing tribute just for being happy for his kid brother?

HaRav Nebentzahl, maintains there are various levels of selflessness. It is one thing to defer to one's brother. It is a totally different level, when a person has been the leader of Israel throughout the years of persecution, pain and sorrow as Aaron was, and to have his younger brother take over, and be happy about it!

This character trait is exceptional and amazing. Aaron had pure selfless joy for Moshe's good fortune, even though he was now demoted from his position of leadership of Israel.

Only a person who possesses such a loving heart of gold, had the merit to wear the golden CHOSHEN over his heart!

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