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Shemini – Leviticus 10:16 – Strickt versus Lenient

וְאֵ֣ת ׀ שְׂעִ֣יר הַֽחַטָּ֗את דָּרֹ֥שׁ דָּרַ֛שׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְהִנֵּ֣ה שֹׂרָ֑ף וַ֠יִּקְצֹ֠ף עַל־אֶלְעָזָ֤ר וְעַל־אִֽיתָמָר֙ בְּנֵ֣י אַהֲרֹ֔ן הַנּוֹתָרִ֖ם

Then Moses inquired about the goat of sin offering, and it had already been burned! He was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons…

Moses was angry?

Personally, I do think the word “angry” is a big word. I would like to tone that down to “to be displeased”, or perhaps I would like to tone it down even more down to “Moses and Aaron had a difference of opinion”, a difference of opinion about which sacrifices should or should not be offered on that day.

Moses and Aaron both had different devotions when it came to their service to Hashem. Moses brought the Torah to the people, while Aaron brought the people to the Torah. Moses Moses wanted to convey the entire Torah in all its details to the people and preferred to see the people perform all the details and everything correctly to the last detail. The truth is the truth and what must be done must be done.

Aaron was the one who wanted to bring the people to the Torah and understood that you also have to look at how people are personally in their lives, that everyone’s situation is different and in what way people can best bring their “personal sacrifice” to Hashem. Not everyone is capable of doing the same thing on the same level.

Moses was “strict” and Aaron was “lenient”. But both, of course, are completely bound by the truth of the Torah.

The Moses and Aaron in us

We all also have that Moses and that Aaron in our own hearts.

When we look at ourselves and what sacrifices we are willing to make in the form of good behaviour, prayers, study, we must be strict (in all reasonableness) . No excuses or cop-outs for not tackling things properly and thoroughly.

But when it comes to the behaviour of others, we must be lenient. It is so easy to judge others with phrases like: surely that could have been done better, doesn’t he know that by now, surely that is also only minimal etc.

This Chasidic lesson stood out for me today. Today I had my performance review at school. Although at our school, it is more about expectations and wishes towards both parties and not just how the employee is functioning but also how the employer is functioning. They are always good conversations where everyone can say what is on their mind.

One of the points linked back to me was that I am always so patient with the children. This is nice to hear, but also remarkable because I myself think I should learn to be much more patient still, count to 10 much more often and feed my patience much more with understanding. In short, the Moses in me says I need to be much stricter with myself in this respect.

On the other hand, “patience” also brings out the Aaron in me. My students have little patience, react to everything, find it difficult to control their impulses. Their lack of patience makes me reason in my head why patience is not working, what is difficult at the moment and how I can help them.

My own sense of lack of patience makes me judge myself harshly and want to grow this trait by dealing with it very consciously. And their learning point of controlling their impulses and being patient makes me judge them leniently and better able to help.

That we may only learn to hone ourselves in good traits and learn to see the r of others in the good traits they have yet to develop.That we strictly judge our Torah study and prayers and want to constantly improve and move to a higher level. But also that we understand that everyone is engaged in Torah study and prayer at their own level, and that when we see others neglecting their Torah study or prayers, we try to encourage them to grow with love, understanding and kindness.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Kehut Chumash Shemini text based learning

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