A Taste of Torah – Parshas Shmini

Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman

Using Everything for the Good

This week’s Torah portion starts off talking about the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, was charged with the inaugural service which included bringing a calf as an offering to G-d. Rashi points out that this was not so easy for Aharon to do. A discussion took place between Aharon and Moshe about this service. Aharon appeared to be embarrassed and was not ready to fulfill the service for he was well aware of the fact that he participated in the sin of the Golden Calf and now felt uncomfortable bringing a calf to G-d. However, Moshe counters this reasoning and says to him, “Why are you embarrassed? This is exactly why you were chosen.” What was the idea that Moshe was conveying to his brother that made him worthy to be chosen for this task?

On a basic level most commentaries understand that Moshe was telling Aharon because you have a sense of embarrassment and you are approaching G-d with a feeling of remorse that is why you are chosen to bring this offering.

However, there is another layer here to be understood with a timeless message of hope for all. Human beings are frail, and we succumb to our evil inclination at times and make mistakes. G-d teaches us that we can always turn things around and learn from our mistakes. We should not give up hope that since we have sinned, we are unworthy to serve G-d. Instead, we should understand that the opposite is true. Yes, we may have sinned and made some mistakes, but we can learn from our sins and mistakes and use those experiences as a vehicle to get closer to G-d. Learning from our mistakes is an important part of growth in life.

Moshe is telling Aharon the reason you were chosen is because you sinned. You can now teach this lesson to everybody – that after one sins, don’t despair, but rather use what you have learned from that experience and turn it around to get closer to G-d. You, Aharon, must be the one to take a calf and offer it to G-d. In the past you used a calf for a sinful purpose. Now, you can use it to get closer to G-d.

One always has the opportunity to learn from every experience in life. Certainly, doing mitzvos and positive things are good for us. Let us also remember that even our negative experiences in life can be turned around and used for good as well.

Leave a Comment: