Moses And Aaron
How often do we pick up a newspaper and read of how a man raised his hand against his own brother and slain him? From the time of Cain and Abel, the wickedness of man has led him, because of his anger or jealousy, to turn upon even his own flesh and blood. Not so, however, was this with two brothers in the Torah, both righteous men, both pious men, both men who loved each other with undying love. These two were Moses and Aaron.
Hatred Of Brothers
Our rabbis tell us: We find from the very beginning of this world that brothers hated and destroyed each other. Thus, Cain hated Abel and killed him; Yishmael hated Isaac and wished to destroy him; Esau hated Jacob and sought his life, and the sons of Jacob hated Joseph.
What then does the verse men when it says: “How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to be sitting together?” This refers to Moses and Aaron who loved each other deeply. Therefore, when the Almighty decided to give one the crown of rulership and the other the crown of the priesthood, neither one had the slightest thought of jealousy against each other, but rather each shared in the happiness and the honor granted the other.
Moses Honors Aaron
We find that when the Almighty appeared to Moses in the wilderness and told him to go to Pharaoh and tell him to release the Jews from bondage in Egypt, Moses appeared to decline and said:
“Send someone else, if it please Thee.”
In reality though, Moses was saying to G-d: “Until this moment, Aaron, my brother was the leader of the Jews in Egypt. For 80 years he was the one who prophesied to them and guided them. How can I, therefore, suddenly intrude upon his rights as the Jewish leader?”
To which the Almighty answered: “It is not as you think. Quite the contrary – not only will Aaron, your brother, not be angered and jealous, but he will be happy for the honor that has been granted to you.”
And so it came to pass. Aaron heard that Moses was coming to be the Jewish leader and went out to greet him. For this, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, a Voice called out: “The heart that rejoiced at the ascension of his brother shall wear the priestly garments.”
The Death Of Aaron
Imagine, therefore, Moses’ feelings when the Almighty informed him:
“Go tell Aaron that the time has come for him to die.”
Moses sat and searched his mind for the best way to tell his dear brother that his days on Earth had come to an end. The next morning, he arose very early and went to Aaron’s tent.
“Good morning, my brother,” said Aaron. “What are you doing here so early in the morning?”
“There is something in the Torah, which I have been having a great deal of trouble with, and I thought that together, we would be able to answer it.”
“Certainly,” replied Aaron, “what is the problem?”
“I don’t recall the exact problem, but it is found somewhere in the book of Bereishis (Genesis). Let us sit together and go through the book, and we will find it.”
Learning Of Adam
So speaking, the two brothers sat down and began to learn together. As they read each sentence, they were overwhelmed with the magnitude of the Almighty’s achievements. When they came, however, to the story of Adam’s sin and expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Moses said:
“What shall I say now that Adam brought death to the world! Even I, who conquered the angels in Heaven and you, who stopped the spread of the pestilence among the Children of Israel, must eventually succumb to death. After all, how many more years have we in which to live?”
“Undoubtedly, we have very few years left,” answered Aaron, who sank into deep thought on the matter. As he thought about it, a cold chill suddenly swept over him, and he felt the presence of death nearby.
“It is because of me that you have done this, is it not?” asked Aaron.
“Yes,” replied Moses sadly. Immediately Aaron’s body appeared to shrink.
“Are you prepared to die?” asked Moses.
“Yes,” answered Aaron.
“In that case, let us go to Har Hohar (the mountain).”
Immediately, Moses, Aaron and Aaron’s son Elazar, went up to the mountain before all Israel. The Jews thought that Aaron was merely going up to speak with the Almighty, but had they known that he was going up to die, they would never have allowed him to go but would have filled the Heavens with their prayers for mercy.
When the three reached the top of the mountain they saw a great cave. Within it, they saw a candle that was lit and a magnificent bed that was the handiwork of Heaven.
Aaron immediately began to remove his clothing while Moses and Elazar aided him. Moses then said:
“Aaron, climb into the bed.”
As Aaron did this, Moses commanded in succession:
“Fold your arms.”
“Close your eyes.”
“Close your lips.”
At that moment the Divine Shechinah came down, kissed him, and the soul of the great Aaron returned to its Maker.
The Cave Is Closed
Weeping, Moses and Elazar kissed him on his cheeks until the Heavenly Cloud descended and covered Aaron.
Then the Almighty said:
“Leave this cave and return to the People of Israel.”
As Moses and Elazar left the cave, it was sealed forever.
The Children of Israel Are Agitated
As Moses and Elazar descended the mountain, the Children of Israel saw that Aaron was not with them, and they become deeply excited because they loved the kindly Aaron who always loved peace and pursued peace.
Satan, knowing this, saw an opportunity to cause a schism in Israel, and he immediately went to work. The Jews were divided into three groups. The first claimed Moses had killed Aaron because he was jealous of him. The second group claimed that Elazar killed his own father in order to inherit the mantle of the High Priest. The third said that it was the decree of Heaven.
Seek To Stone Moses
As Moses and Elazar descended, they were seized by the Jews who demanded to know: “Where is Aaron?”
“He has been taken away by the Almighty and secreted for the World to Come,” replied Moses.
“We do not believe you,” shouted the Jews. “You have probably killed him yourself.”
Immediately, the Jews decided to stone Moses and Elazar. Seeing this, however, the Almighty hastily beckoned to the angels who removed the casket from the cave and hung it in the Heavens for all to see, while the angels stood about heaping praises and tributes upon the High Priest.
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Page last updated - 05/12/2006