Sedra of the week: Ha’azinu
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Sedra of the week: Ha’azinu

 Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky looks ahead to this week's portion of the torah

In this week’s Parsha, the death of Moses is compared with the death of his older brother Aaron and, while there are similarities, there are also fundamental differences.

The process leading to Aaron’s death is carried out with no reference to any human emotion until the final verse: “When the entire assembly saw that Aaron had perished, they wept for Aaron thirty days, the entire House of Israel.” The death of Moses is described similarly: “The Children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days”. However, there is a fundamental difference. 

The word entire appears only in the context of Aaron’s death. The passing of Moses was mourned by the nation, but for Aaron he was mourned by the entire nation. This minor difference reflects a fundamental contrast between the roles of the two brothers. 

While Moses leads, Aaron unifies. The great sage Hillel attributed the values of pursuing peace and loving people to Aaron’s legacy. 

Although Moses was younger and never experienced slavery personally, Aaron did not resent his brother’s
appointment, or feel entitlement to the senior leadership position. 

On the contrary, Aaron rejoiced even in the hidden depth of his heart (Exod 4:14). Aaron encouraged harmony, unity and peace between people. As a unifier, Aaron was extremely popular. Everyone, with no exception, wept and mourned his passing. 

Moses assumed a different type of leadership position. Occasionally, leaders must make difficult decisions, choosing between what is easy and what is right, what is popular and what is equitable. There will always be some objection and this is reflected in the absence of the word ‘entire’ when the nation wept for Moses. Although most did, nevertheless not everyone wept and mourned for Moses.

But we are taught that these two models of leadership complement each other. When courageous leadership partners with a voice promoting peace and unity, a nation thrives. 

  •  Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky serves Young Israel of North Netanya

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