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Va'eira

Va'eira

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Two Rabbis One Shul

Sound like double trouble? Over-employment? The latest synagogue sitcom? Probably; but Jewish history is never probable.

We started that way. Moses could not, would not, lead alone; Aaron had to be there. Moses' older brother never was quite his associate rabbi. Aaron was vastly more popular. He was the nice guy: arbitrator in congregants' business disputes, mediator in spousal clashes, peacemaker in sisterly spats, and conciliator for anyone with a teenager at home. Mr. Nice.

Moses was more the patrician than the paternal. The teacher, not the counselor; the lawgiver, not the therapist. Mr. (sorry relativists and wannabe brides) Right.

Moses embodied truth; Aaron embraced peace. Truth demands integrity; peace requires compromise. Torah insists on both, hence a team was needed for the making of a people -- not an individual.

Moses rarely enjoyed public support; his method, leadership qualifications, and integrity were regularly challenged, and accusations of nepotism drained him. Aaron was rarely taken to task, and then only because of his association with you-know-who.

The brothers' dichotomy did not abate with their deaths; the turnout at Aaron's funeral nearly doubled Moses's. Not surprisingly, it was only upon Moses's passing that despair threatened the people. But while Aaron's popularity earned him a larger funeral, Moses's instruction earned him the role of leader. Aaron's passing evoked mourning; Moses's passing created a terrifying void. Leadership, like money, is appreciated when you don't have it.

We need our Aarons and we need our Moseses (including our intra-personal, internal ones). One without the other is unbalanced. If we favor the peace over truth because peace doesn't demand of us and truth does, we'll get neither. It might not play well in the sitcoms, but Jewish legacy is not a sitcom.

 

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