By Daniel Cohen, Programs Director
This week’s Parsha begins with a very strange phrase. Hashem says to Moshe: And you shall command the Children of Israel… The verse emphasises that it is Moshe being spoken to by adding the seemingly superfluous word v’atah – and you. This emphasis is also repeated in verses 28:1 and 28:3 further on. Why the emphasis?
Originally, Hashem intended that Moshe was to be the Kohen Gadol, as well as the teacher and leader of the people. However, due to his reluctance to accept the Divine mission at first, Hashem declared that Aharon would be the Kohen, while Moshe would remain a Levi (see the episode of the ‘burning bush’ generally; specifically Shemot 4:14 and Rashi there). In fact, the Midrash describes how Moshe was disappointed when, after performing the priestly service during the inaugural week of the Mishkan he was told to invest Aharon with the office of Kohen Gadol (Vayikra 8:2, Shemot Rabbah 37).
From the outset, the Torah instituted a “separation of powers”, distinguishing the authority of the priesthood from the authority of the judiciary. Aharon represents the priesthood, and Moshe the legal system. In this capacity, Moshe had the responsibility of investing the Kohen Gadol. By the emphatic way that Hashem spoke to Moshe, Hashem stressed the importance of his responsibilities and the confidence He had in him. In fact, several of the commentators say that this language is used to tell Moshe that he has to perform these actions himself and not through any other people – that is how important they are, and how much he is valued as a leader.
Through this, though, Moshe came to realise an even more important idea. He learnt that the ‘crown of Torah’ is even more precious than the ‘crown of priesthood’. Indeed, the Rambam comments that the ‘crown of Torah’ is set aside for anyone who wants it, regardless of their background or origins, whereas Aharon’s distinction is passed on solely to his offspring.
We learn from this a vital lesson – Torah is accessible to everyone! Of course, everyone has their own level, but everyone can gain something from the Torah. Moshe is teaching us that we should all try and learn some Torah, and we will surely get something out of it. So try it – read a book about the Parsha, attend a shiur or discussion group, download Divrei Torah from the internet or arrange to learn with a rabbi – Lo Bashamyim Hi – the Torah is not in Heaven.