“This was Aaron and Moshe to whom
HASHEM spoke....” — Shemos 6:26
After HASHEM commanded Moshe and Aaron
to be the emissaries to free the Jewish people, the Torah
lays out their lineage. At the conclusion, the Torah repeats
the names of Aaron and Moshe, this time in reverse order,
with Aaron mentioned before Moshe.
Rashi seems to be bothered by both the
repetition of the names and the reversal of their order. He
says this comes to teach us that Moshe and Aaron were
equal. Even though from this point forward, Moshe would
be the leader of the Jewish nation, don’t make any mistake.
Aaron was just as great.
The difficulty with this Rashi is that
according to all measures, Moshe Rabbeinu was far greater
than Aharon. Moshe was the leader of the Jewish nation. He
brought the makkos (plagues) on Mitzrayim (Egpyt).
He led the Jewish people out of slavery. He split the Yam
Suf. He went up to receive the Torah on Har Sinai. But even
more telling, he was the greatest Navi (prophet) who
ever lived. The only human who reached the level of seeing
HASHEM with total clarity was Moshe. There never was, nor
will there ever be, a person who will reach that level.
So how can Rashi tell us that Moshe and
Aaron were equals when clearly Moshe Rabbeinu was on a
higher madreigah (level)?
Two systems for
measuring the greatness of a person
The answer to this question seems to be
that there are two systems for judging a person’s greatness,
one is absolute and the other is subjective.
When measuring a man based on the absolute standard
of greatness in Torah and perfection, Moshe was far greater
than Aaron. He towered over any other human ever created.
However, there is another system for measuring a person’s
success. Based on his capacity, and his
potential, how much did he accomplish?
Before each person is born, he is
predestined to certain abilities and talents, a particular
level of intelligence, and an exact disposition and
temperament. At the end of his days, he will be compared to
what he could have become. How far did he grow? How much did
he accomplish with the tools given to him? This system is
subjective. How much of his potential did he
Moshe may well have reached 99% of his
potential, but so did Aaron. So even though in the
absolute sense Moshe was far greater, and others had to
treat him as the greatest human being ever, in the
subjective sense of reaching one’s capacity, Aaron was
his equal, and as such was just as great. That is what the
Torah is teaching by exchanging the order of their names.
I won’t be compared to you
One of the most sobering concepts is that
when I finish my job on this planet, I will be judged. But I
will not be measured in absolute terms of how much Torah I
mastered or how much I accomplished. That is far too
I won’t even be compared to others in my
generation. I won’t be compared to you, or to him, or to
her, or to anyone else. I will be measured by a far more
just and exacting standard – me. How much of me
did I become? 80%? 60%? 50%? And that is who I am for
When we leave this earth
– the system is subjective
In this world, we can’t measure a
person’s capacity, so we give honor and respect based only
on the absolute measure of the person. If this person
is functioning on the level of a great person, we are
obligated to respect him and treat him with honor.
However, when we leave this temporary
existence, everything will become clear. I will understand
exactly what I was destined to be. And I will also know your
capacity and what you could have been. There are no head
starts, no advantages or disadvantages, just percentages of
that point in our existence, there will be individuals who
appeared to us as great while we were occupants of the
physical world who then will shrink dramatically, having
only reached 20% of their potential. They’ll be pygmies. And
there will be many others who we once cast into the category
of the insignificant, but who are actually towering giants,
having reached 85% of their potential. Just as with Moshe
and Aharon, it wasn’t the rank or position that they held
that is the final determinant, but rather their subjective
greatness in regards to who they should have been.
I am for eternity
This concept has great relevance to us –
both positive and negative. It seems to be a natural
tendency to compare ourselves to others. “I am smarter than
he is. Better than she is. Not as talented as he is.
. .” If my disposition is to favor myself – being kindly to
me and tough on you – I become inflated, over-confident, and
full of myself. If my prejudice is to be harsh on myself,
then I will constantly find others superior, and my sense of
self will suffer.
The reality is that all of it is
irrelevant. It just doesn’t matter. It is true that at the
end of my days I will be compared – not to you, but to me.
The only question they’ll ask and the only criteria that
will count is how far I took my G-d-given talents and
situation. How much of me did I become? And that will
be the rank and station that I will occupy for eternity.
Sent by: Joy Haber
on Jan 3, 2012