Parshat Shemot tells the story of Moses’s development and his becoming a leader.
The story starts with Mosess birth and progresses through his life until he is ultimately chosen by Godto be the one to take the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt. There is another character in Parshat Shemot, however, that we must not overlook-Aharon, Moses’s older brother.
When Moses tells God that He should send someone else to redeem the Jewish people, God responds and says that Aharon will speak instead and “Hinei hu yotzei likratecha vera’acha vesamach belibo,” Aharon is coming to greet Moses and that he
is happy in his heart (Shemot 4:14). What does this teach us about Aharon’s character and what can we learn from this?
Rashi comments on the fact that it says that Aharon is happy to see Moses. It would be logical to think that Aharon would be resentful that his brother is becoming such a great leader. Therefore, Aharon’s response, happiness, seems counterintuitive. For this
reason, he merited to wear the priestly breastplate and have a special communication with God.
Ramban adds that not only is Aharon not resentful towards Moses, but he is also not jealous of him. These are valuable lessons to learn from Aharon as it can be difficult to appreciate another’s successes without wishing they were one’s own.
Sforno also comments on this point. He says that Aharon comes out to greet Moses out of respect for his new leadership position and that he is, without a doubt, happy for Moses. Many siblings experience rivalry and it is not always easy to respect siblings,
especially if they are younger. Aharon was on such a level that he could not only appreciate his brother’s successes, but also respect him for them.
Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher notes that Aharon is the only one whose yartzeit (anniversary of his death) is mentioned in the Torah. Not only this, but the calendar is formatted in such a way that Parshat Ma’asei is read right before Tisha B’av. The reason for this, as stated in Ethics of Our Fathers, is because Aharon was “Ohev shalom verodef shalom,” a lover of peace and pursuer of peace (Avot 1:12). He would famously try to bring together partners who were in a dispute. We know that the reason for the destruction of Second Temple was sinat chinam, baseless hatred. We therefore read about Aharon’s passing before Tisha B’av, when the both Temples were destroyed, to remind ourselves to be like Aharon in pursuing peace. Aharon was able to withhold jealousy and be genuinely happy for his brother, thereby promoting peace.
Aharon’s attributes have a lot to teach us about how to act in our relationships with other people. We should always remember to respect others, be happy for them, and try our hardest to pursue peace.
By: Efrat Putterman (Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, Class of ’20)