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Shemini: The Ari on Aharon’s Hesitation

On the day of the dedication of the Mishkan, Moshe tells Aharon, “Approach the Mizbayach (Kerav el hamizbeiach) and make your sin offering and burnt offering . . .,” Rashi

explains that Aharon (because of his involvement in the sin of the Egel) was embarrassed before Hashem and afraid to approach the Mizbayach. Moshe then told him, “Go, for this you were chosen.”

According to the conventional understanding of this Rashi, despite Aharon’s embarrassment, Moshe reassured him that he was chosen by Hashem to serve as the Kohen. This leaves us with a question, though. How does Moshe’s reassurance help Aharon deal with his embarrassment? Is not being chosen for such a lofty task, despite his involvement in the Golden Calf, the source of his embarrassment?

The Arizal, quoted by the Baal Shem Tov zt”l, has a different reading of this Rashi. Moshe tells Aharon, “For this – because you are embarrassed by your sin and have a sincere heart and fear of Hashem – you were chosen as the Kohen Gadol.” Hashem chose Aharon as his Kohen Gadol, the one to approach Him for forgiveness on behalf of all of Klal Yisroel, because of his extreme humility. “Likach Nivcharta” – “For this humbleness you were chosen!”

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