Be Humble!

Parshat Shmini

Chapter 9 of VaYikra, Verse 7 reads:

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר משֶׁ֜ה אֶל־אַֽהֲרֹ֗ן קְרַ֤ב אֶל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֨חַ֙ וַֽעֲשֵׂ֞ה
אֶת־חַטָּֽאתְךָ֙ וְאֶת־עֹ֣לָתֶ֔ךָ וְכַפֵּ֥רבַּֽעַדְךָ֖ וּבְעַ֣ד הָעָ֑ם
וַֽעֲשֵׂ֞ה אֶת־קָרְבַּ֤ן הָעָם֙ וְכַפֵּ֣ר בַּֽעֲדָ֔ם כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֖ר צִוָּ֥ה ה

And Moses said to Aaron, "Approach the altar and perform your sin offering and your burnt offering, atoning for yourself and for the people, and perform the people's sacrifice, atoning for them, as the Lord has commanded.

because Aaron was bashful and afraid to approach [the altar]. So Moses said to him: "Why are you ashamed? For this you have been chosen!" -
[Torath Kohanim 9:7]

The scene is the dedication of the Mishkan on the first of Nissan. It is Aaron's first day on the job as high priest. Moses instructs Aaron to bring certain sacrifices that will attain forgiveness for the sin of the Golden calf for both him and the people. Moses tells Aaron to approach the Mizbeach and offer the sacrifices. Rashi questions why Moses had to instruct Aaron to approach the mizbeach when simply instructing him to offer the sacrifices would have sufficed. In order to offer the sacrifices Aaron obviously would have been required to approach the Mizbeach.

Rashi suggests that Aaron did not feel worthy of approaching and thus Moses had to instruct him to do so. Moses, according to Rashi, is telling Aaron to overcome his feelings and do what he was chosen to do. The word "this" in Rashi ("For *this* you were chosen") in this reading refers to the job.

But this is only one way of reading Rashi. Another way of reading Rashi's comment is that Aaron was actually chosen BECAUSE of his humility. Here the word "this" refers to Aaron's humility.

Humility is paramount in Judaism. One cannot be a good Jew without being humble. The talmud in Tractate Sota (5) relates what God says about a haughty person: "I and he cannot live (together) in the world."

Daily Action Item: Ponder how we can better live with God in the world by being more humble. 

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