Reb Shlomo Carlebach o.b.m. was famous for his melodious voice and for composing many soulful songs. His songs have remained timeless favorites. Reb Shlomo was also a great storyteller. He inspired others by using his talent of blending a story together with his distinct sing song that accentuated the point like no one else could.
Reb Shlomo would also intersperse Torah insights within his stories. A friend shared with me a gem based on this Parsha that Reb Shlomo told.
Reb Shlomo asked, “What is the best way to encourage someone to improve?
“If someone comes over to you and says, ‘listen, I want you to know, you have to change your ways from top to bottom – you do this wrong and that wrong…’
This kind of message is like a butcher who after cutting off some part of you declares, ‘Now you are ready to be a real good Jew’. This is certainly not the sweetest or most effective way to motivate a person to change their behavior.”
Reb Shlomo, continued, “Now listen to this. G-d in this week’s Parsha instructs the holy Moshe to tell his dearest brother Aaron to kindle the lights of the Menorah of the Temple. Included in this command was that through Aaron’s actions he would also instill a spiritual fire in the heart of every Jew.
The Torah immediately tells us that Aaron did exactly as he was instructed and kindled the Menorah. On this, the great commentator Rashi, says, “The Torah tells us this to convey praise upon Aaron that he did not deviate – Aaron didn’t change anything that G-d told him to do.”
Reb Shlomo was perplexed, “Let me ask you, isn’t it obvious that Aaron followed the exact instruction? For if Aaron would have changed an iota of G-d’s words, he would not have been chosen for the position of the high priest!”
There are many explanations offered to explain this. One of the most well-known is that the Torah is conveying that throughout the thirty-nine years that Aaron served as high priest he lit the Menorah each evening with the same enthusiasm, excitement and passion as if he was doing it the first time.
Reb Shlomo added, “Let us see how the holy Alexander Rebbe explained what it means that Aaron did not change.” Says the Alexanderer, “It is not necessarily referring to the same action and holy thoughts that Aaron had while kindling the Menorah. Rather, Aaron the high priest was noted to effectively bring Shalom to feuding parties. This surely necessitated that people modify their ways. However, while doing so, Aaron never changed…a Jew. The way he achieved his successes was by igniting and instilling a fire in them and boosting and lifting them up just as he kindled the Menorah. When he lit the Menorah he touched the Shamash to the wick and waited until the fire would firmly catch on its own!
We all were created with a mechanism within ourselves for the fire of G-d and His Torah to ignite and be turned on strong. Every Jew has the power within them to develop who they are, and direct everything they have for the service of G-d, without having to chop and cut away, rather through being ignited by the warmth and illumination of our Holy Torah!
The secret to the best and most effective way to elevate our children and our brethren, rather than telling them to cut here and there, is to be like Aaron – to gradually instill the fire of G-d’s Torah into their hearts and then watch how it continually catches on!