By Rabbi Yedidya Noiman
Rosh Kollel (Montreal, 2016-19)
In the aftermath of the crisis of Korach, Hashem performs a miracle with Aharon’s stick; In order to show that he was chosen to serve as the Kohen Gadol his stick bloomed overnight with flowers of an almond tree. When everything has settled, Hashem orders Moshe to put the Blooming Stick right next to Luchot Habrit in Kodesh HaKodashim, to serve as an eternal testimony to this event.
Even if we can understand why Hashem performed a miracle to prove Aharon’s critics wrong, it is hard to understand why we should give this event such an historical importance. After all, this dispute seems to be a political issue involving emotions and human intrigue with no real impact to other generations. Especially when we compare it to The Luchot standing next to it, it seems very “local”. The Luchot represent the Torah we received from heaven and they are the constant reminder that we were privileged and therefore obligated to always be connected to it.
In the second half of the 19th century, Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch was one of the most important leaders of German Jewry. Living in that time and place he found himself challenged strongly by new ideas influenced strongly by the Anti-Religious movements. One of the most significant battles was regrading the sanctity of the Torah and the faith that we received the Torah from above. When explaining this order, Rav Hirsch ties a direct connection between the times of Aharon and Moshe to his time and place.
Rav Hirsch teaches that the Blooming Stick and the Luchot are stored together in Kodesh HaKodashim to present us with the important idea that the Torah is in the end distant from us. As a nation we were privileged to receive the Torah from Hashem and we got the opportunity to be engaged in it. This is a privilege and an obligation that our nation has been invested in for more than three thousand years. Such a mission requires creativity and human initiatives and this might raise a problem of over-involvement. People could think that everything is to be judged by human standards and if the Torah’s ideas don’t meet them the Torah should be changed in order to fit to reality.
Putting the Luchot in Kodesh Hakodashim shows that even after we received the Torah we should never forget it is different from us. Yes, we humans have the ability to learn it and create with it, but it is always something heavenly, beyond the reach of our total understanding. The ideas morals and actions of the Torah should be performed in the world but they are always much loftier than the current reality.
The Blooming Stick was put right next to the Luchot to represent the same idea about the Levi’im and their role in our nation. The Levi’im were chosen to serve as the mediators between Hashem and Am Yisrael, and they serve as the enablers of spiritual growth in our nation. During the years, and especially when they succeed in their mission to connect the people to the Torah, we might think that they are not needed any more. So, in order to show our constant need of the Levi’im as mediators between us and Hashem we were ordered to put their stick in the Holiest place of all.