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משה said to אהרן: Approach the מזבח and perform the service of your sin-offering… (9, 7)
Why did משה have to tell אהרן to approach the מזבח to begin bringing the חז"ל? קרבנות tell us that אהרן was shy, afraid to approach the משה. מזבח reproached and asked, “Why are you shy? This is for what you have been chosen.” חז"ל tell us further that אהרן saw in the ,מזבח as it were, the likeness of an ox; and he was afraid of it. משה reproached him and asked, “Why are you afraid of it? Take courage and come close to it.” Therefore, the פסוק tells us that משה said, “Approach the מזבח.” What do חז"ל mean when they say that אהרן saw the likeness of an ox in the מזבח
“They made a calf at חרב… and they exchanged their honor with the figure of a grass eating ox.” Clearly the “likeness of an ox” that frightened אהרן represented the sin of the עגל in which he had participated. It was quite natural for him, at the time of his accepting his new position – one which holds the great responsibility of leading the nation and teaching and interpreting the Divine will – to be shy and afraid.
Let us explain the reference to the two animals, the calf and the ox, so that we may gain a clearer understanding of what took place at the time of the אהרן. חטא העגל wanted to downgrade the extent of the rebellion which had stemmed from the desire of a new intermediary between ‘ ה and the people. He intended to do so by making the image of a calf, an animal which is dependent and cannot exist independently, to symbolize to the בני ישראל their dependence on ‘ה. But the people were displeased with אהרן’s effort and instead considered the image of an ox, an independent entity. Thus, they worsened the extent of the rebellion. חז"ל tell us that the משכן and the קרבנות which were brought on the on the eighth day were instituted to atone for the . חטא העגל “Let the ox come and atone for the sin regarding the ox, and let the calf come and atone for the sin regarding the calf.” Since the משכן and the קרבנות in general, and אהרן’s קרבנות in particular, were brought to be מכפר on the אהרן, חטא העגל remembered the way his minor concession had led to the major transgressions that ensued. Now we can better understand אהרן’s fears of the tremendous responsibility placed upon him.
But משה told him, “Don’t be afraid, because the very fact that you are coming to start the עבודה with fear of your tremendous responsibility, justifies your approach to the מזבח.” Therefore, משה commanded him, " "הגס דעתך וקרב אליו – “take courage and come close to it.”
Chochman U'musar - R' Shomo Breuer
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