Tetzave: Why does one become a leader.

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב אֵלֶיךָ אֶת אַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ וְאֶת בָּנָיו אִתּוֹ מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְכַהֲנוֹ לִי

“And you shall bring closer Aharon your brother, and his sons with him, from among the Children of Israel to serve Me.” (Shemos 28:1).

The Midrash says (Shemos Rabbah 37:4) as follows: כְּשֶׁאָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה: וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב אֵלֶיךָ, הֵרַע לוֹ, אָמַר לוֹ תּוֹרָה הָיְתָה לִי וּנְתַתִּיהָ לְךָ - When Hashem told Moshe "And you shall bring closer Aharon your brother," it bothered him. So Hashem told him, “The Torah used to be Mine and I gave it to you.”


Hashem was comforting Moshe that although Aharon would be doing the sacred duties in the Mishkan, the Torah was given through him and not through Aharon.


At first glance, it seems as if Moshe was hurt that he was forced to relinquish the sacred duty of serving in the Mishkan to his brother Aharon. This is very surprising since the Torah testifies that Moshe was extremely humble. וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה עָנָיו מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה - "The man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). He was not after any leadership or honors. So how can it be that Moshe was hurt that he had to give over the sacred duty of serving in the Mishkan to his brother?


This Midrash can be explained as follows:


The Holy Chidah (R’ Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai 1724-1806, whose yahrtzeit is on 11 Adar) talks about the fact that in this week’s Parsha the word וְאַתָּה is mentioned three times. וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה - “And you shall command” (Shemos 27:20), וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב - “And you bring near” (ibid. 28:1), וְאַתָּה תְּדַבֵּר - “And you shall speak” (ibid. 28:3).


We can expand on this matter with the following story: There once came a Jew to the Holy Razlah Rav zy”a (the son-in-law of the Ateres Tzvi of Zidetchov zy”a) and told him that he thinks that the desire (תאוה) to be a Rebbe is just like any other desire. So he answered him as follows: “What you say is true, but in order to have that desire, one has to first overcome all other desires.”


The Rebbe of Vizhnitz-Monsey zy”a taught that the word וְאַתָּה - “and you,” spells out the word תאוה - “desire.”


Accordingly, we can say as follows: There are three reasons why one has the desire to be a Rebbe. One reason could be that he likes to rule over people, he likes telling people what to do. That goes in the category of וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה - “And you shall command,” he likes to give commands.


A second reason could be that he likes when people listen to what he has to say, and if he will be a Rebbe then everyone will listen to his lectures. That goes in the category of וְאַתָּה תְּדַבֵּר - “And you shall speak,” he likes when people listen to him.


A third reason why one wants to become a Rebbe is that he wants to bring people closer to Hashem and to warm their hearts with the flame of Yiddishkeit. That is in the category of וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב - “And you shall bring near,” he wants to bring Jewish children closer to their Father in Heaven.



When Moshe Rabbeinu was the leader of the Jewish people, the first reason of וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה - to give commands and rule over people, was surely not the case. As we see that when Hashem chose him to go to Pharaoh, he begged שְׁלַח נָא בְּיַד תִּשְׁלָח - “please send through whomever You will send!” (Shemos 4:13).


The second category of וְאַתָּה תְּדַבֵּר - wanting people to hear what he has to say, was also not the case. For Moshe couldn't speak very clearly, as he said כִּי כְבַד פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן אָנֹכִי - “for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue" (Shemos 4:10).


What remains is the third category of וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב - wanting to bring the Jewish people closer to their Father in Heaven.


Therefore the Midrash says as follows: When Hashem told Moshe וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב אֵלֶיךָ אֶת אַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ - "and now bring close Aharon your brother," (which implies that Moshe will no longer be in the position of bringing the Jewish people closer to Hashem), הֵרַע לוֹ - that bothered him, since that was his only reason for being the leader of the Jewish people.


So Hashem comforted Moshe by telling him, תּוֹרָה הָיְתָה לִי וּנְתַתִּיהָ לְךָ - “The Torah used to be Mine and I gave it to you.” Although Aharon would be doing the sacred duties in the Mishkan, you will bring the Jewish people closer to me by teaching them the Torah that was given through you.


(קידושא רבא - תשס"ב)

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