Rabbi Krakowski: Parshas Chukas


In this week’s Sedra we read of the passing of two of Klal-Yisroel’s all time greatest figures: Aharon HaCohen, and Miriam. Klal-Yisroel benefitted tremendously from both of these figures. Chazal tell us the spring of water from which Klal-Yisroel drank throughout their travels in the Midbar was in the merit of Miriam, and that the Ananaei HaKavod (Clouds of Glory) were in the zechus of (because of the merit of) Aharon. Both of these figures were larger than life; they were true leaders of Kal-Yisroel. While there are many comparisons that can be drawn between the two of them, we find a stark contrast between them in this week’s Sedra. When Miriam passes on the Torah just makes a brief mention that when Klal-Yisroel camped in Tzin Miriam passed on. The Torah does not announce the event with any fanfare but rather mentions her passing only incidentally. Whereas when Aharon is Niftar the Torah tells us that the entire Eida (Assembly) realized that Aharon had passed on and that the entire Am-Yisroel mourned him for a month. Why does Aharon’s passing appear as a monumental event whereas Miriam’s seems as much less so?

In describing Aharon’s petira (passing) the Passuk seems a bit redundant: “the entire assembly saw that Aharon was Niftar, and the entire Bais-Yisroel (house of Israel) wept for him for thirty days”. The Torah already told us the “entire assembly”. Why must it add the entire “Bais Yisroel”? Rashi, by way of answering this question explains that “Bais Yisroel” is referring to the fact that both the men and the women mourned Aharon because he made Shalom between people and helped to bring about Shalom Bayis between husband and wife.

Aharon HaCohen and Miriam Hanevia were both tremendous personalities, they were both tremendous Tzadikim, and they were both leaders of kal-Yisroel. Yet when they were Niftar it wasn’t their Tzidkus or their leadership that was missed. Aharon HaCohen was mourned deeply because he made peace between people; the people cried over him because he had won a special place in everyone’s heart. Aharon HaCohen was mourned because he helped and assisted others. In a way, he was seen as a very special friend to everyone.

Klal-Yisroel derived benefits bezchus Aharon and Miriam, but they weren’t mourning the sudden loss of these. Klal-Yisroel mourned Aharon because he was Rodef Shalom. It was what Aharon gave socially that had its greatest impact on Klal-Yisroel.

While it may be difficult for us to have the tzidkus of Aharon HaCohen or to have the Nevua of Miriam, we should all be Rodef Shalom. We should all seek to emulate Aharon in our interactions with others.

A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski