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    This week’s parsha
    begins with the “Eighth
    Day.” During the
    previous week the
    Jewish people had
    occupied themselves
    with what is known as
    the “Seven Days of Consecration” leading up
    to the inauguration of the Mishkan. All that
    was left to happen on the eighth day was for
    the Divine Presence of G-d to descend and
    become noticeable in the Mishkan.
    Rashi, at the beginning of the Parsha, cites the
    following Medrash: “When Aharon saw that
    all the sacrifices were offered and all the rituals
    were performed, yet the Shechinah did not
    descend upon Israel, he was distressed. He
    said, ‘I know that G-d is angry with me and
    because of me, the Shechinah did not descend
    upon Israel.’” Moshe tried to tell Aharon this
    was not the case, but Aharon remained
    Let us imagine how Aharon must have felt.
    Here he was, serving as the Kohen Gadol. He
    was representing the entire Jewish nation.
    Only recently, the entire nation had sullied
    themselves through the sin of the Golden Calf.
    The active participants were killed shortly
    after the incident. However, it was not only the
    active participants who perpetrated that sin.

    Virtually the entire nation was sullied by the
    Golden Calf. When Moshe, having descended
    from the mountain, discovered what had
    transpired, he raised the banner and called
    “Who is for G-d, let him join with me.” Only
    the Shevet Levi gathered around Moshe to
    defend G-d’s honor. The rest of the people
    were tolerant enough of what had transpired
    that they did not rally around that banner.
    If we were Aharon, we could have very easily
    shifted the blame, for the failure of the
    Shechinah to descend, to the nation. “We acted
    for the Sake of Heaven. We, the tribe of Levi
    and the Kohanim are not to blame. It is the
    people’s fault that the Divine Presence failed
    to descend! It is certainly not our fault!”
    Rav Yeruchem Levovitz says that this
    Medrash demonstrates the tremendous
    strength of character of Aharon. When
    something goes wrong, most of humanity
    says, “it is HIS fault!” When there are
    gatherings for repentance and introspection as
    a result of tragedies in a community, Heaven
    forbid, our reaction is invariably “I wonder
    what OTHER people are doing wrong!”
    Aharon demonstrated the exact opposite
    reaction. His a priori assumption was “it must
    be MY fault!” If more of us had this attitude,
    rather than looking around and saying “who
    could it be?” or “what are THEY doing

    wrong?” then we would be a better people and
    the community would be a better community.
    I once heard a very powerful insight from the
    Brisker Rov, zt”l. When Yonah was on the
    boat and the boat was about to break up, all the
    sailors prayed to their gods. Again, if we were
    in a similar situation, what would our reaction
    be? What if we were on an airplane and things
    became very turbulent, or Heaven forbid there
    was engine trouble? Everyone would become
    panicky and would start praying to the ‘gods’
    of their religion. Wouldn’t our reaction be
    “You guys keep quiet — I’ll daven!”? Would
    we not think “How will we ever survive if
    these guys are worshiping foreign gods – they
    are making matters worse, not better”?
    Yonah was in a similar situation. He was on
    the boat and everyone was carrying on. This
    sailor invoked this Avodah Zarah and that
    sailor invoked that Avodah Zarah. The boat
    was on the verge of shattering. Yet, Yonah – in
    the presence of all the idolaters – was
    convinced that it was his own fault. The boat
    was not on the verge of destruction because of
    the idolaters. Yonah was convinced that the
    boat was on the verge of destruction because
    of him, the righteous prophet.
    Yonah was in fact correct. It was the very fact
    of his righteousness and lineage and stature
    that convinced him – correctly – that it was

    HIS fault! He should know better. More is
    expected of him. The greater the person is, the
    greater the responsibility for success or failure.
    This too was the reaction of Aharon. The
    blame was not placed on the people who just
    worshiped the Golden Calf. He accepted the
    blame on his own shoulders, because
    responsibility comes with greatness.
    This must be our attitude as well. Our “holy
    community” ought not look elsewhere to find
    blame when “bad things happen.” Yes, there is
    intermarriage and yes, there is abandonment
    of Torah and the basics of Judaism elsewhere.
    Yet despite many failings of so much of the
    Jewish People who are not observant, it is not
    necessarily THEIR fault. “For I know that it is
    because of me that this great tempest is upon
    you” [Yonah 1:12].
    When a community ‘knows better’ – when
    they know what is right and what is wrong, the
    responsibility lies with them. This must be our
    attitude, the attitude of Aharon the Kohen
    Gadol and of Yonah the prophet. If we would
    have that attitude and use it to improve our
    lives then we would merit the descent of the
    Shechinah, speedily may it come in our days.