Sunday, 29 June 2008

Zohar - Parshat Chukat - Moshe Buries Aharon... Death by Kiss


MATOK MIDVASH (Page 342-343)

DAF 183a

Moshe Buries Aharon

[This weeks Parsha speaks of the death of Aharon the Kohein, brother of Moshe and Miriam. Aharon died on the first day of Av in the fortieth year of the Israelites journeying in the desert. He was 123 years old. Moses was commanded by G-d to ascend Mount Hor together with Aharon’s son, Elazar. There, upon the mountain, Moses was to remove the garments of Aharon, as he would prepare him for burial, and hand these garments over to the one who would fill the place of Aharon i.e. Elazar his son. The entire episode is shrouded in mystery. If Moses had to distance himself so far away from the Israelites at the time of the burial, why were the Israelites privileged to see Aharon in his state of death? Why did G-d command Moses specifically to remove Aharon’s garments? Why did Aharon merit such a death – death by a kiss, where Moses consoles Aharon up until the time of death to follow through with the procedures involved? The Zohar explains all these themes giving hidden glimpses to this beautiful and emotionally consuming event.]

And Moses did just as G-d commanded. And they went up to Mount Hor in front of the eyes of the entire nation, and it asks, “Why in the sight of the entire nation?” Why was it necessary for the entire nation to see? And it answers, “But rather since Aharon was the beloved of the entire nation more so than all of them i.e. the rest of the nation, because he loved peace and pursued peace between man and his fellow man and between husband and wife, and that they shouldn’t say that he was hidden [buried] and gathered to his people by Moses, but rather that all Israel should see that he did everything just as he was commanded by the mouth of the Holy One Blessed be He. And behold, and Moses drew Aharon with words of consolation, that he said to him, “Happy are you that you are meriting to leave [this world] in such an exalted manner as this,” [he would be dying through the divine kiss of G-d Himself] until they went up to the mountain. And all of Israel saw at the time that Moses removed the garments of Aharon and dressed them upon Elazar [his son.]

And it asks, “What is the reason that it was necessary for Moses to remove the garments of Aharon and not that Aharon removed them himself?” And it answers, “But it is rather since Moses placed the garments on Aharon at the time that Aharon arose to the priesthood.” This is what is written, “And Moses placed the garments on Aharon.” And it is written, (Vayikra 8:7) And he placed upon him the Ketonet [Tunic], and he girded him with the Avnet [girdle/sash], and he dressed him with the Me’il [robe] and he placed upon him the Ephod and girded him with the Cheshev HaEphod [belt of the Ephod] and adorned him with it,” and therefore now Moses removed and stripped off the garments that he had given him, and the Holy One Blessed be He removed from him what He had given him, i.e. his soul. And both of them removed everything from Aharon. And Moses removed what was external, and the Holy One Blessed be He removed what was internal, and not until Moses had removed and stripped off the garments of Aharon, did the Holy One Blessed be He remove and did not take from him his soul. Happy is the portion of Moses, that the Holy One Blessed be He suspended the death of Aharon upon the removal of his garments [by Moses].

And it said, “Happy is the portion of the righteous, that the Holy One Blessed be He desires their honor”, and therefore, the Holy One Blessed be He prepared for Aharon a bed and a candle of gold that He lit, and He took from what was his and his reward, i.e. from the reward of the Menorah [candle] that he [Aharon] lit twice each day. And afterwards, He closed the mouth of the cave, and they – Moses and Elazar descended from the mountain. (From here, there is a proof to the opinion of the Rambam – Hilchot Temidin 3:12, that the lighting of the Menorah was twice each day.)

Rabbi Yehuda said, “The mouth of the cave was open, and all of Israel saw Aharon dead, and the candle of the Menorah was alight in front of him,” and further, “His bed went out from cave and entered, in order that all of Israel would see that Aharon had died, and the bed was similar to the supernal bed that he would unify each day, and one cloud stood above the bed, in the merit of the cloud of incense that he would burn every day, and then all of Israel would know that Aharon had died. And further, they saw that the Clouds of Glory left the Jewish people – that they were in the merit of Aharon. This is what is written, “And the entire nation saw that Aharon had died.” And all of the House of Israel cried for Aharon for thirty days. And already this has been explained by our Rabbis (Rosh Hashanah 3a), and therefore all the House of Israel wept for Aharon – men, women and children, as it says, “And all the House of Israel wept for Aharon for thirty days,” for he was the beloved of all of them, as Rashi explains, since Aharon pursued peace and imposed love between those who argued and between man and wife.


Bold print: Original Zohar

Ordinary text: Matok Midvash

[Square brackets]: ELIYAHU ben PINCHAS

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

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