By Shalom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
“The Children of Israel mourned the passing of Moses….” (Deuteronomy 34:8)
The words “Children of Israel” here, translate literally to mean “Sons of Israel”; i.e. the males. Whereas by [the mourning of the passing of] Aaron, since he pursued peace and placed peace between man and his fellow and between husband and wife, the verse [Numbers 20:29] reads, “The entire House of Israel [mourned his passing]” – males and females.
How is it appropriate, at the time of Moses’ passing, to emphasize the greatness that his brother had over him?
Why do we not find much discussion in the works of our Sages regarding Moses’ great love of his fellow Jew and his bringing peace to them? This was indeed one of his outstanding characteristics. And yet of Aaron’s love, much is discussed, whereas, not so, concerning Moses.
Explanation to both questions:
Aaron’s pursuit of peace included sometimes altering the truth in order to make peace. Moses’ greatest characteristic was Truth, which did not allow such an extreme love of peace to become manifest in his ways. Moses and Aaron each fulfilled their life’s mission to the fullest, based on their distinct personas. This answers the second question above.
And, since, throughout Moses’ life, he was thoroughly involved with his life’s tasks, therefore, only upon completing this, did he have an opportunity to give thought to his character and its comparison to his brother’s. That is why the Torah mentions this here at his passing.
The time of Moses’ passing was really an ascent to a higher level, even higher than the perfection he reached during his lifetime. Then, at that higher stage, he recognized Aaron’s way of pursuing peace to be even loftier than his own. Therefore in the Torah’s writing of Moses’ passing it hints to this recognition.
How great was Moses’ love for his fellow man; his own loftiness notwithstanding, he still recognized the superiority of Aaron’s way of pursuing peace.
(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 24, V’zos HaBrachah)