Incoming Coordinator of Experiential Jewish Education – Moriah College, Syndey
The Fruit and the Flowers
One of Korachs claims in this weeks parasha was that Aharon and his sons do not have a legitimate right for the priesthood. As a result of this, Korach and his followers were punished by God and swallowed up by the earth.
At the end of the parasha, the Jews again complain about the priesthood of Egypt. God tries to settle this once and for all and says "Speak to the children of Israel and take from them one staff from each father's house, from all their leaders according to their fathers' house, twelve staffs; each man's name shall you inscribe on his staff." [Bamidbar 17:17].
God was trying to prove Aharon’s claim to the priesthood and settle the complaints of the people. Each tribe would bring forward a staff and the person’s staff that miraculously sprouts will be the one chosen by G-d. Of course Aharon’s one was the one chosen and flowered and also gave almonds. Here the rabbis ask a very interesting question. In a normal case, when fruit sprouts, the flower falls away as the fruit comes to ‘fruition’. Why in this case did the flower miraculously stay in tact while the almonds were present? As a matter of fact, the Talmud [Yoma 52], explicitly mentions that the staff was hidden for Eternity – together with its flowers and its almonds.
While this clearly was an extension of the miracle that God produced what was the significance of this extra flower remaining intact?
Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, suggests a beautiful insight and offers an important lesson that we can take into our lives. The flower to any fruit is the preparation before the fruit emerges. First the plan blossoms and undergoes a period of transformation and then the fruit emerges. The significance here is obvious, the preparations and plans that take place before the produce are equally as important as the produce itself.
In our world today, people are only interested in the final outcome, what the final product is. In Yiddishkiet however the opposite is true, G-d wants the effort and wants us to learn from the spiritual journey that we undertake. There are some Jews who even make a bracha on a ‘hechser mitsvah’ preparation that is done for certain mitsvot. Even more so when it comes to learning Torah is the preparation as important as the final sugya that is learnt.
This is why the flowers remained on the staff. G-d was sending the people a message about productivity. The final result is important but what is as equally as important is how we got there. One could suggest that Aharon was not only appointed the Kohen Gadol by G-d but had also earnt his right to be there because of the amazing qualities he had and the ‘preparation’ that he undertook to become the person he was.