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A Sense of Humility

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Acharei Mos by Rabbi Dovid Aronin

"וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה אַחֲרֵי מוֹת שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן בְּקָרְבָתָם לִפְנֵי ה' וַיָמֻתוּ"  וַיִקְרָא ט''ז:א'

“And God spoke to Moshe after the death of Aharon’s two sons, when they approached before God, and they died.”  Vayikra 16:1

The Yom Kippur service was instructed to Moshe after Aharon’s sons died. Why was the Avodah introduced by telling us that it occurred after the death of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu?  

The Torah instructs “with this (בְּזֹאת) shall Aharon come”. Ramban cites a Midrash which notes that the word "בְּזֹאת" – “with this” – is referencing “bundles of mitzvos” with which Aharon entered the Kodesh, which are indicated with the word "זֹאת". For example, Aharon entered with the mitzvah of circumcision, where the verse states (Bereshis 17:10) "זֹאת בְּרִיתִי". We see that the word "זֹאת" can have a broader meaning than just the details mentioned in our parashah describing the Yom Kippur service.

This can help us understand our original question. Perhaps Aharon was instructed that before entering the service, he should enter with the lessons learned from the death of his sons. There are two opinions as to why Nadav and Avihu died at that time (see Eruvin 79a). One opinion is that they decided a halachah before their rebbe Moshe. The other is that they offered their ketores after having drunk wine. These transgressions would not have taken place without Nadav and Avihu possessing an element of haughtiness. A humble person wouldn't be brazen enough to speak out of turn. One who is humble would be sure that his mind is in a state of clarity before approaching the service of Hashem. 

Perhaps this is what Aharon was being instructed. The entire service of that day was performed by the Kohen Gadol. Under these conditions, the Kohen Gadol might develop an inflated sense of self. He is therefore instructed that to achieve atonement on Yom Kippur, humility is essential. He is only there as a representative of Klal Yisrael. His arrival to this point is divorced from any personal achievements he may have accomplished. "בְּזֹאת יָבֹא" – with the lessons of humility he should enter the Kodesh, and with that he shall achieve atonement for the nation.

We all play important roles in our lives, whether it be professional or personal. It is important to always approach our roles with a sense of humility. 


Rabbi Dovid Aronin graduated FYHS in 1997 and participated in the EMES program under the tutelage of Rabbi Avraham Friedman. He then learned in Yeshivas Mercaz Hatorah in Yerushalayim for one year and returned to HTC to receive his BA (2001) and Semichah (2004). For 13 years he was an associate Rabbinic Coordinator at the cRc. Rabbi Aronin is currently Director of Operations for a local property management company.                                                                                           

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