Parshas Chukas – Rabbi D Tugendhaft- Transcript

What a very strange name. Har Hahar means ‘Mountain Mountain’. This is the name of the mountain where Aharon Hakohen died upon, and the Torah goes into great length to tell us about. What a bland name, call it something interesting! ‘Mountain Mountain’? Rashi tells us that it was called that way because it was like one little mountain on top of a large mountain. You know that every word in the Torah is an hora’ah, a teaching. What does this come to teach us? The fact that the mountain that Aharon Hakohen died upon I called ‘Mountain Mountain’, like a small mountain on top of a big mountain- what is the lesson that we can learn?

Besiyata dishmaya I would like to suggest as follows:

Rashi tells us in this week’s parsha, parshas Chukas, that there were three mountains that were not levelled by the ananei hakavod, the clouds of glory, as they went and sailed with the Jewish People through the desert. These three mountains that stayed in the original structure are: Har Sinai, for the giving of the Torah; Har Nevoy, which is where Moshe would be buried; and Har Hahar, where Aharon Hakohen was laid to rest. I was thinking, possibly this corresponds to the three crowns that are mentioned in Pirkei Avos. We are told that in the fourth perek: “Shlosho kesorim hem”- there are three crowns. What does a crown mean? Three things we are supposed to give honour to. Keser Torah, Keser Kehunah and Keser Malchus. The crown of Torah learning, the crown of priesthood and the crown of kingship. Possibly, these three mountains are the geographical representations of these three crowns. Har Hahar, where Aharon Hakohen died, corresponds to the crown of priesthood. Har Nevoy, where Moshe was buried, corresponds to the crown of kingship, because our Sages teach us that Moshe had the status of the king of the Jewish People. And Har Sinai of course, corresponds to the crown of Torah study. These are three things we are supposed to look up to, these are three positions, three ideas, which are considered noble in the eyes of the Jewish People.
The Mishna, though, tells us another thing. That “keser shem tov oileh al gabehem”- there is a crown of a good name which rises above these three mountains. This is also something which we are supposed to strive to achieve, to have a Keser Shem Tov, to have a good name, that people think highly of us, that people understand what we are doing, respect what we are doing, and that they think that we are doing good things. Now it says about Aharon Hakohen that when he died, kol beis Yisroel cried, everybody cried. They loved Aharon Hakohen. The men, the women, the children, because he would always make peace between partners and between husband and wives. And he would go up to people and he would try and smooth things over and say that really the other person, they do care about you, they do want to rebuild the relationship, they are so sorry for what happened. And we’re told that Aharon Hakohen was so beloved that kol beis Yisroel, everybody, cried. Possibly, Har Hahar, the mountain that he was buried on was a double mountain, to correspond to these two crowns. Not only did he have the Keser Kehunah, the crown of priesthood, but he also had a Keser Shem Tov oileh al gabehem, he had the Crown of Good Name. Through his actions, because he cared about people, he strove to increase peace between people and therefore he had a Keser Shem Tov, a Crown of a Good Name, which is oileh al gabehem, which rises above.

And therefore, Har Hahar is the geographical representation in this world of the things that Aharon Hakohen achieved in his life: his priesthood and his Crown of a Good Name.

May Hashem help us to achieve all the crowns that we are able to achieve ourselves, and whatever we are doing in life, may we too be zoiche, may we merit the Keser Shem Tov, the Crown of a Good Name, which is oileh al gabehem.

Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos!

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