By: Batya Hefter

“The cloud covered and filled the Tabernacle. Moshe could not enter into the Communion Tent, since the cloud had rested on it and God’s glory filled the Tabernacle” (Shemot 40:35).

As Sefer Shemot comes to a close, we find Moshe, God’s devoted servant, standing outside the Tent of Meeting, unable to enter.

The Zohar raises the paradox. How can it be that Moshe was on the mountain with God for forty days and forty nights and now he can’t enter into the Tabernacle?

The Mei HaShiloach explains that upon the completion of the mishkan, Moshe had fulfilled his mission. He was not certain about his future role in the mishkan. Perhaps it was time for his brother, Aharon, to assume responsibility.

Let us recall that in Parshat Shemot, Moshe was reluctant to accept his role as the leader. Following his refusal for the fifth time, God divided the role of leadership between Moshe and Aharon. “I will be with your mouth and his mouth and I will teach you what to do. He will be your spokesman, and you will be his guide” (Shemot 4:14-15).

Initially, it was God’s intention, so to speak, that Moshe would be the one to both ascend the mountain and communicate His Will to the people.

Moshe was chosen to receive the Torah. The actual fulfillment of the Torah, in particular, the avodah in the mishkan , would be carried out by Aharon. And now, at the threshold of the mishkan, having successfully received the Torah at Sinai, Moshe’s task is fulfilled and he is uncertain as to whether there is a place for him in the mishkan. While The Mei HaShiloach insists that Moshe looks kindly (ayintova) towards Aharon, he nonetheless yearns to be close to God and anxiously waits in hopeful anticipation for God’s call to service.

“And God calls to Moshe from the Tent of Meeting” (Vayikra 1:1). According to this reading, Sefer Vayikra dramatically opens with God’s response to Moshe. God invites Moshe to enter into the Tabernacle. Moshe will have a role, but it is the role of lawgiver, not the role of the Kohen. God will give the laws governing sacrificial offerings to Moshe to convey to Aharon, and Moshe will then consecrate the mishkan for eight days. During this time, Moshe will demonstrate the avodah to the kohanim in order to instruct them. In Parashat Tzav, as Moshe sacrifices his final offering, the verse states, “And he slaughtered” (Vayikra 8:23). The ‘ta’am’ (canticle) shalshelet rests above the word, indicating hesitation (see, for example, the wife of Lot who hesitated when told to leave Sedom – Bereishit 19:17). This demonstrates, perhaps, Moshe’s love of God’s avodah, his desire to remain in the role of high priest.

No one can do it all. Moshe and Aharon had a partnership. In a sense Moshe is not of this world; he is with God. Hence, his refusal to return to Egypt and lead the people at the outset (see – Parshat Shemot). Aharon, on the other hand, possesses and symbolizes the desire to live with God in thisworld, the willingness to be involved with ongoing avodah.

God united Moshe and Aharon. Together, they lead and care for the people: Moshe, God’s prophet, and Aharon, the sustainer of the people, through his avodah in the mishkan.

Each of us has both a Moshe and an Aharon within us. Some of us are more inclined towards seeking spiritual perfection, some of us more inclined towards practical involvement in this world. The Torah’s ideal view is not of the hermit withdrawing to the cave seeking perfection by separating himself from the world. Each of us must embrace both the Moshe and the Aaron within us. The challenge we face is to strike the proper balance of these tendencies in ourselves. In so doing we may become servants of God as whole human beings.

Shabbat Shalom,
Batya

Your thoughts are welcome, write to me at Batya@wbm.org.il

מקורות לפרשת פקודי

מי השילוח ויקרא ד”ה ‘ויקרא אל משה’
כתיב, והי’ טרם יקראו ואני אענה עוד הם מדברים ואני אשמע, ומאחר שהש”י עונה מה ענין עוד לדבר ולבקש, אך כי קריאה היינו תשוקה וציפוי, והוא אמרו טרם יקראו ואני אענה היינו טרם שיבא בלב המיחל לה’ שום חשק לדבר אז עונה אותו הש”י והוא שמבער מלבו כל חמדות וכל מיני חשקות לשום דבר שבעולם, ועי”ז יעשה מקום בלב האדם שיוכל לצפה ולקוה לרצון הש”י, ואח”כ יוכל לקבל בלבו תשוקה וקווי בלתי לה’ לבדו ואז עוד הם מדברים ואני אשמע. וזה הענין הי’ כאן כשנגמר המשכן וכתיב ולא יכול משה לבוא אל אהל מועד, אז חשב משה בדעתו שעד עתה הי’ העסק של הקב”ה עם ישראל בד”ת ואז הי’ הוא הנבחר לקבל התורה וללמדה לישראל, ועתה פתח הש”י בדבר חדש לעסוק עם ישראל ולזה אהרן הוא הנבחר, ובאמת הי’ למרע”ה טובת עין לאהרן אך מאוד שקק לדבר ה’ והי’ יושב ומצפה שישמע דבר ה’, וזהו ויקרא אל משה מאוהל מועד…’