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Dvar for Beha’alotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:17)

Parshat Beha’alotcha begins with G-d instructing Aaron to light the Menorah with the candles facing its center (8:2). Rashi explains that Aaron felt dejected because his tribe was not listed in the preceding list of tribe offerings. G-d was addressing his disappointment by giving Aaron a task that is more eternal than a one-time offering. However, why would G-d need anyone’s help to light the Menorah? The Midrash explains that this was to elevate the Jewish nation as a whole, but how does this act of Aaron’s lighting the Menorah satisfy Aaron’s feelings and elevate an entire people?

Rabbi Henach Leibowitz answers by describing two levels of chesed (kindness). The basic level of kindness is compassion for the plight of others, while the higher level stems from a feeling of love. The difference lies in the way others receive these acts. While giving with kindness may leave the recipient feeling indebted, giving fueled by love makes the recipient feel loved, wanted, and appreciated. When G-d asked Aaron to light the Menorah, He was making Aaron a partner. Giving and helping from a place of love and acceptance has the potential to change not only our interactions, but the world as well.