This week’s parsha, Tetzaveh, focuses on the priestly garments, worn by Aaron, his sons, and future kohanim. Introducing this theme, God instructs Moshe to bring Aaron and his sons to the fore: “Now you [Moshe], bring close to yourself Aaron, your brother, and his sons with him” (Shemot 28:1). The word ‘yourself’ (italicized above) appears to be redundant; apparently, the investiture of Aaron and his sons directly relates to Moshe himself.
The Ktav Sofer (R’ Avraham Shmuel Binyomin Sofer, 19th C. Hungary, and son of the famous Chatam Sofer) suggests a fascinating explanation, based on Moshe and Aaron’s fundamental qualities. (In various places, Chazal derive certain core character traits for many biblical characters.) Moshe, we are taught, was the paradigm of humility. Moshe retains this quality despite also experiencing an unmatched closeness with God. Moshe confronts Pharaoh, leads the Jewish people out of Egypt and through the desert. Yet, with all of these accomplishments, he retained his humility and integrated it into his behavior as a leader of the Jewish people.
The Ktav Sofer suggests we learn this lesson of integration from the superfluous word ‘yourself’. Aaron’s core characteristic related to pacifism; he loved peace and pursued peace (ohev shalom and rodef shalom). Perhaps, his role as the high priest would force him to abandon this fundamental characteristic. The Ktav Sofer states that this was not the case; rather, Moshe provided a powerful example of how to best integrate personal qualities amidst the responsibilities of leadership.
Certainly any significant change – a new job or leadership role perhaps – brings with it certain opportunities: finally we can be someone new! However, Moshe and Aaron teach us the other side of the coin. As Rav Dessler succinctly puts it in Strive for Truth (which we recently read in the Mussar Breakfast class), “the strength of our cleaving to the true God derives from one’s personal truth.” Service to God occurs not despite our specific qualities; rather, our service – avodah – derives from our ability to integrate our core traits within various opportunities for service and leadership. Such integration was the hallmark of Moshe and Aaron, our people’s greatest Jewish leaders.