Aharon’s Shame and True Greatness- Rabbi Yoni Miller

After Moshe summoned his beloved brother Aharon to take his place as the Kohen Gadol in the daily functioning of the Mishkan there was a slight setback. Aharon was still cognizant of his role in the incident of the Golden Calf and therefore he felt a great amount of shame in assuming this pivotal role. Due to his embarrassment he felt afraid to approach the mizbeiach to offer his necessary korban chatas. Rashi teaches that Moshe saw Aharon’s hesitation and said to him, “Why are you embarrassed? For this you were chosen! Approach the mizbeach and offerup your korbanos as Hashem has commanded!”. Aharon acquieces and takes his place as the Kohein Gadol
The great Torah Master Rav Chayim Yosef David Azulai (1724-1806) known by his acronym Chid”a, offers a beautiful interpretation of Moshe’s claim to Aharon. While the simple meaning of “for this you were chosen” is that he was chosen to be the Kohen Gadol, the Chid”a offers a different reading. Based on the statement of the Gemara in Berachos 12b, “one who sins and then feels embarrassment for his sin is granted forgiveness for his sins”, the Chid”a reveals that Moshe was telling Aharon that his unease and aprehension themselves were the signs of his chosenness! Specifically because he felt imperfect and uncomfortable because of his mistake in his involvement with the sin of the golden calf, that is what made it clear that he had the humility and humanity to serve as the Kohein Gadol. It is precisely when one is conscientious of his own imperfection that indicates that he is a truly great person.
This idea can be seen in 2 more places in the parsha. Regarding the episode of Nadav and Avihu who are punished, Chazal and the Mefarshim offer many explanations for what their mistake was. On intriguing opinion found in the Medrash Halacha in Acharei Mos, is that they did not seek one anothers advice. Perhaps this inability to recognize their own flaws and imperfections they failed in their role as leaders. As great as they may have been they did have the quality of apprehension and humility that the Chid”a teaches made Aharon special.
At the end of the Parsha we are taught about the signs of kosher and unkosher animals. Famously, the 2 signs which make an animal kosher are its split hooves and its quality of chewing its cud. What is it about regurgitation of food that represents an animal’s esteemed status as being kosher? Perhaps this represents the need to reevaluate and rethink all of our experiences. Even if the food should “go down” properly, it comes back up again to be re-digested and reprocessed. Aharon had made a decision at the sin of the golden calf, one that he thought was necessary in that moment. Now however, he rethought it. He felt bad about he felt as if he had made a great mistake. He chewed it over and realized that he had not behaved as he should have. This is a sign of greatness and a tell-tale sign of a kosher animal as well as a person fit to be the Kohein Gadol of the Jewish people.