Moshe conveys the laws governing the annulment of vows to the heads of the tribes of Israel. War is waged against Midian for their role in plotting the moral destruction of Israel, and the Torah gives a detailed account of the war spoils and how they were allocated amongst the people, the warriors, the Levites and the high priest.
The tribes of Reuven and Gad (later joined by half of the tribe of Menashe ) ask for the lands east of the Jordan as their portion in the Promised Land, these being prime pastureland for their cattle. Moshe is initially angered by the request, but subsequently agrees on the condition that they first join, and lead, in Israel’s conquest of the lands west of the Jordan.
The forty-two journeys and encampments of Israel are listed, from the Exodus to their encampment on the plains of Moav across the river from the land of Canaan. The boundaries of the Promised Land are given, and cities of refuge are designated as havens and places of exile for inadvertent murderers. The daughters of Tzelafchad marry within their own tribe of Menashe, so that the estate which they inherit from their father should not pass to the province of another tribe.
“Aaron HaKohen climbed Hor Mountain at Hashem’s command, and he died there on the first day of the fifth month, in the 40th year of the Jews exodus from Egypt” (Bamidbar 33:38)
Rav Pincus notes that out of all the “fathers” of the Jewish people, only Aaron HaKohen has the day of his death mentioned: Rosh Chodesh Av, the first day of the month of Av (Which is today ). Even though, we tend to stay away from fasting on Rosh Chodesh, since it is a happier day, the Tur writes that righteous people are allowed to fast in honour of Aaron HaKohen’s yartzeit.
We also know that when the month of Av begins, we are to decrease our simchas and begin a more stringent mode of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem, culminating on Tisha B’av (the ninth day of Av).
So… obviously, there is something special with Aaron HaKohen.
The mishnah in Pirkei Avos states: “Be like the students of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace” (Avos 1:12). Aaron was greatly known as a “peace maker”. He wanted nothing more than to see peace between Jews and between Jews and Hashem.
The nation was not a fan of Moshe, because Moshe’s role was that of a leader and had to take stands contrary to the will of the nation. However, Aaron HaKohen was certainly loved. He was the “Peace Rabbi”.
We need a teacher and role model on how to seek and make peace, because peace is quite contrary to human nature. People, by nature, love controversy and a good fight. When there is peace, people are bored; when there is controversy, people get excited, they want to know both sides of the story, see who is saying what about who, watch the combatants at play… what do you think half the internet is based off of?
What about peace? It’s not in our nature. We need to teach ourselves that macholokos (arguments) are not healthy and that peace is.
Threre is a parable of a young boy walking down the street and walking by a scene of a large fire. He stops and watches the firemen race in with the red engines, lights flaring, sirens wailing. The ladder goes up and firemen climb and, risking their lives, save the trapped children. Other firemen below are fighting viciously to quench the fire. The ambulance races by to pick up those in need, the police keep the public away.The boy is loving it all.Where’s the danger? This young boy might just go home and start his own little fire to re-enact the exciting scene that he just witnesses, not understanding the dangerous involved.
So too is macholokos. Its fun, it’s exciting, it’s dangerous.
It’s what brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beis HaMikdash, and it can only be remedied by changing our natures and being like the students of Aaron by loving peace and pursuing peace.
Have a great Shabbos!