Midot Hayom 5770 Day 32: Netzach in Hod
“Behold, this day they have brought their sin offering” (Leviticus 10:19). Aaron took Moses aside and said to him, “Moses my brother, if an onein [mourner of the day of death of his kinsman] is forbidden to eat the tithe, which has a light degree of sanctity,
surely he is forbidden to eat the sin offering, which has a high degree of sanctity.” Moses immediately acknowledged that [Aaron] was right (Avot d’Rabbi Nosson 37:12).
In one of the two most outstanding moments of his life, Aaron made a judgment call that would save the Jewish people for all eternity. Nadav and Avihu, his sons, had died that very morning, when they brought a fire that was, “Not commanded by God.” Nadav and Avihu made a decision, and they died. Moshe was adamant that everyone, especially Aaron and his two remaining sons be meticulous in following the law. He expected them to eat the meat of the offering. But, Aaron decided, on a day when judgment calls did not seem safe, to not eat the sacrifice as he was an Onein – an immediate family member had just died.
Moshe was furious, and this Midrash describes how his brother, Aaron, appeased him. Another version of this story has Moshe running through the camp singing, “Aaron was right and I was wrong!”
This was the first day of the fully functioning Mishkan. The people were just learning how to live with this House of God in their midst. Had Aaron not acted as he did, no one would ever feel safe making a judgment call. Our involvement in the Mishkan would have been to simply obey the rules. We would not have been involved in the process of determining the law.
Aaron’s action, sensing the Hod, the inner beauty, the concept behind each law, understood that it could only remain eternal if we were involved in the process, and were empowered to make judgment calls. Aaron preserved the Netzach, eternal beauty of the Hod of Torah, Mishkan and Mitzvot.
When we observe a Mitzvah as a law, we lose its Hod. We capture its Hod when we ask what can we learn from this Mitzvah? What is God teaching me through this law?
Our observance of a Mitzvah with its Hod is what allows the action to go beyond a duty performed and checking off an item on a To-Do list, into something eternal.
- Learn three Mitzvot today, focusing on the concept of each Mitzvah.
- Apply each concept to something else you do during the day.