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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Shmini(Leviticus 9-11)

Full Grown Ox

Parshat Shmini describes the inauguration of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary that accompanied the Jewish people during their 40 years of wandering in the desert. For the first seven days, Moses performed the holy service, and then on the eighth and final day of inauguration, his brother Aaron was to take over as the official High Priest.

Everything's ready to go and Aaron's instructions are clear: He is to step forward and begin the service. Yet strangely, Moses has to encourage Aaron three separate times.

What was the cause of Aaron's hesitation?

The commentators explain that because Aaron had helped build the Golden Calf, he felt unworthy of the position of High Priest.

In fact, as he was standing there in the Tabernacle, the four corners of the Altar appeared in Aaron's eyes as the horns of an ox. The negative memory of the Golden Calf weighed so heavily on his mind that the image of the Calf now appeared to him - on the corners of the altar - as a full grown ox!

Moses, in his great wisdom, then explained to Aaron the following: You've got it all backwards. It is precisely because your conscience bothers you, that you were chosen for the important role of High Priest! There's no hope for someone who doesn't regret their negative past. But for you, Aaron, whose minimal involvement in the Golden Calf was with only good intentions - and yet you are still so concerned - that's exactly who God wants to serve as High Priest.

We can bring this idea into our own lives. When we find we've made a mistake, it's good to regret it, and then use that as a learning experience - as Aaron did - to move humbly forward into the future.

December 31, 1969

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, March 30, 2016 1:11 PM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(4) Anonymous, March 20, 2014 12:40 PM


This is great! Thanks for posting it!

(3) jeanne**, April 17, 2012 9:17 PM

ex-addict jew -- now practicing Jew with G-d in my life

As a jewish woman, ex-lawyer, ex-addict, and now practicing Jew with G-d in my life, this was a very "good read" for me. Thank you!

(2) Scott Granowski, March 28, 2008 3:43 PM

Dark Past

Thank you for your insight. It's clear that G-d is able to use my regrettable moments in the past to be of greater service to others - if I will so intend. Connecting that to the choice of Aaron's leadership is very en"light"ening.

(1) David, March 26, 2008 8:49 AM


Incredible wisdom.

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