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Becoming Your Attributes

By Rabbi Aharon Gabbay

The parasha begins where Aharon HaCohen is instructed to light the Menorah. When Aharon was told to light the Menorah the Pasuk says ״ויעש כן אהרן״ “and Aharon did as he was told”. Why should the pasuk need to point out that that one of the greatest people in that generation did Hashems will? Rashi answers that the Pasuk is merely coming to praise the greatness of Aharon that he does Hashems will meticulously just as he was told.

The famed Mishna in Avot quotes Aharon HaCohen as being someone who is אוהב שלום ורודף שלום – loves and pursues peace. We also find that many of the iconic figures mentioned in the Torah represent a certain attribute: Avraham is חסד – Kindness, Yitzchak is גבורה – Strength, David HaMelech is מלכות – Royalty. The question arise then, if this simply means that this is what their focus in life was, how can it be that such great people only focused on one area of growth and interpersonal relationship? These are our role models and it would surely degrade them had they only perfected one area in life.

 

Rashi, in Avot, brings a story of a man who swore not to receive benefit from his own wife until she would spit in the Cohen Gadol’s eye (which he was sure would never happen). Aharon, who was the Cohen Gadol, heard and came over to the wife and told her that he has a sickness in his eye and only her saliva can heal it. Despite degrading Aharons status in the Jewish nation, Aharon was willing to forgo his status for the peace between a man and his wife.

The Torah displays Aharon as an individual who has a drive to make peace amongst all the people around him, he doesn’t just represent the attribute but he lives for it. It is true that all his other attributes were astounding, but there was one part in his life where he excelled in with no limits and the Torah is telling us that Aharon made it become a part of him so much that, in essence, that’s what he is. And similarly with all of the great figures they would specifically excel in one area to a point that it would integrate itself into their existence.

The Mishna in Avot often brings a statement from a Rabbi preceded by the words הוא היה אומר – He would say. Rav Ovadia MiBartenura explains that the Rabbis would regularly repeat over these words daily. The Rabbis had their life encompassed in this one idea.

There are very few things that our ancestors possess that we can relate to. Searching our strengths and internalising them to bring out our personality is a tremendous opportunity to grow to help ourselves and others around us.

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