“And Aaron did so . . .” (Bamidbar/Numbers 8:3). G-d explains how the Menorah will be lit and Moses conveys this information to Aaron who carries it out. He was such a good man. Why would he do otherwise?
This coming Sabbath we read Parshas Beha’aloscha. In it we learn about lighting the Menorah; the consecration of the Levites; the bringing of the Korban Pesach, the Passover Offering and Pesach Sheini; the cloud and pillar of fire with which G-d led the Children of Israel and other aspects of their travels; the people who complained about eating the Manna and what G-d did about it; and finally Miriam’s affliction with tzaraas.
At this point in the Torah, we have read numerous times that: “G-d spoke to Moses saying . . .” Not once did Moses forget or fail to convey the message. And in many cases the Torah notes that the person being directed complies. There must be reasons why tasks completed are noted.
Sifrei explains the first day the Menorah was lit was also the day that Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, died. Nonetheless, he put his duty to G-d and the well-being of the Israelites before his own feelings. Although as Kohen Gadol he could have assigned this responsibility to another kohen, every day for the rest of his life he not only lit the Menorah but performed the menial tasks of preparing the wicks, removing the soot, and pouring the oil.
The Sfas Emes notes that whereas most people lose their initial enthusiasm for a task after doing it for a long time, Aaron was always passionate when performing this duty.
How would your life be different if you sustained your enthusiasm for the most mundane aspects of your life? Imagine wholeheartedly greeting your spouse, children, and co-workers every morning. Undeniably, the quality of these relationships would improve. Can you imagine exuberantly taking out the trash? How sorry would you be if, G-d forbid, you were unable to do so again? The way you answer the telephone, drive to work, transact with a cashier – have you noticed that when you are polite and engaging the whole spirit of the interaction brightens?
I acknowledge it sounds exhausting to always be on. This highlights the importance of spiritual fitness. Just like an athlete has to train consistently to improve stamina, so too we have to regularly exercise our spirits to increase endurance. Fortunately, Aaron sets the example of verve even in the face of mundanity.
How do you exercise your spirit?
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