This week’s Torah reading focuses our attention on Aaron, Moses’ brother. In fact, Tetzaveh is the only portion following Moses’ introduction in which he is totally absent! In the parashah, Aaron becomes the Kohen Hagadol, the High Priest, responsible for the functioning of the Tabernacle and the religious life of the Israelites.
God simply appoints him. Our ancestors wanted to know by what criteria did Aaron qualify for such an important position?
If we look at the Priestly Benediction found in Parashat Naso, we see that the central blessing of the Kohen is a three-fold blessing of Shalom, Peace. Not surprisingly, therefore, the rabbis asserted that Aaron’s qualification was his pursuit of Shalom.
הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה:
Hillel used to say: be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving humanity, and drawing them close to the Torah. (Pirkei Avot 1:12)
At this moment, as we witness unparalleled violence in Israel perpetrated by Palestinians and Israelis, this week’s Torah reading comes as a Tikkun, a repair. It reminds us to that which we should always aspire, to be in pursuit of peace, loving humanity and drawing each other closer to Torah.