Thought of the Week: Behalotcha - 5772
THE FIRE OF MITZVOT
After Aharon was commanded to light the Menorah, the Torah tells us: “And Aharon did so” (Bemidbar 8:3). Why was there a need to say that he did what he was told to do? These words seem to imply that we might have entertained some doubt as to whether Aaron would do it or not. Rashi explains that these words are written in praise of Aharon, stressing that in his actions Aharon did not change a single detail of the way he was commanded to perform a mitzvah. Yet this too leaves us confused. Why is there a need to stress this point?
The Sefas Emes comments that one of the great challenges of performing Mitzvos is that with time we may begin to feel that they are repetitious and even meaningless. Even prayer can become a matter of rote recitation marked by boredom and the mitzvos can lose their taste. Our greatest responsibility, therefore, is the obligation of hischadshus, constant renewal and rejuvenation. We must always renew our desire and our excitement in performing the mitzvos.
This is what was so special about the fire that Aharon, and later the Kohanim, lit each day. They were able to create such excitement in lighting the Menorah that every day they had the same feeling as they had the first time they performed the mitzvah. The Sages tell us that the words, “And Aharon did so” teach us that “there was no change” in the excitement and happiness he felt each time he fulfilled the mitzvah. The lighting of the Menorah always aroused his excitement just as it did the first time he performed the Mitzvah.