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Spiritual Jealousy

Topic: Consciousness | Posted:May 22, 2013

This portion of this week begins:

The Creator speaks to Moses saying, "Speak to Aaron and say to him, Behaalotcha et hanerot, when you elevate, when you light the candles in the candelabra in the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, make sure that the candles shine towards the center, what's called the fat of the candelabra."

This request the Creator makes of Aaron to light the candelabra (the Menorah) in the Tabernacle has a tremendous number of lessons for us, and the Midrash tells us a back story to the beginning of Beha'alot'cha.

In the previous portion of Naso, the leader of each tribe brings a sacrifice to the Tabernacle; all except the tribe of Levi, the Levites. Who was the leader of the tribe of Levi? Aaron, who sees the Creator tell Moses to tell the head of each tribe to bring a sacrifice. We know these sacrifices were an action of revealing great Light for the world, and as such, each one of the tribes and its leader is excited about the Light that they are awakening through this work. So Aaron is waiting, wondering when it is his turn, thinking, "I want to reveal this Light. I want to help in this revelation."

But Aaron was never called.

Aaron sees all the other tribes and all the other leaders doing something very important - bringing the sacrifices, revealing great Light. And he sees that he’s not being called, and starts worrying, "Why is it? Why is it that I’m not being called?” He’s concerned that the reason the tribe of Levi, his tribe, was not called to this great revelation of Light was because he was lacking. He comes to the conclusion that there is something wrong with him, that spiritually, he’s lacking, and that’s why the Creator has not asked him to bring a sacrifice.

The Creator sees the worry that Aaron is going through and tells Moses to tell Aaron not to worry, to tell him that what he is going to do is something greater than everybody else. And then he tells him, Aaron is going to light the candelabra in the Mishkan, in the Tabernacle. Therefore, this week’s portion begins daber el Aharon veamarta elav - Moses speaks to Aaron and tells him he is going to light the candelabra.

So one way to understand the story is just the chronology of events. But there’s a deeper way to understand it. A more important way. The only reason that Aaron was given the gift to be able to light the candelabra - and more importantly, to reveal the great Light that action revealed - was because of his worry that he was lacking and undeserving to reveal the Light of the sacrifices.

We learn from this a very important lesson: whatever spiritual lack we feel is the Light that we are going to receive.

A deeper question we need to ask ourselves then, is - what pain do we have for lack of a higher spiritual level? There’s a concept called kinat sofrim, jealousy. But not the stupid, ego-based jealousy that most people feel, like, “I want what he has.” We are talking here about jealousy when it pertains to spiritual levels. And it’s okay to look at another person in that type of jealousy; it hurt Aaron that he didn’t think he could reveal the Light the other tribe leaders were revealing through their sacrifices. But it was exactly that pain that prepared him and enabled him to become a conduit for the great revelation of Light in the world through the lighting of the candelabra.

If you want to know what you will achieve and what gifts you are going to be given from above, then ask yourself - what are the things that literally hurt you that you can’t do yet? Do you have kinat sofrim, spiritual jealousy? What level do you see can be achieved but that you haven’t achieved yet? Whatever pains you, whatever hurts you, is what you are going to have, is what you are going to receive, is the gift that will be given to you from above.

So, why did this week’s portion happen? Why was Aaron given the ability to open up Supernal channels of Light and sustenance and blessings to come down into this world?

Because he was in pain seeing the other leaders of the tribes reveal Light. Due to that pain, he was given not only the ability to reveal the Light that they revealed, but also the ability to reveal even greater Light than they were able to.

Therefore, one of the great gifts we can receive on this Shabbat is to ask Aaron to give us some of his pain, to give us the ability to look at where we should be and feel the pain for not being there. We have to ask to have that kinat sofrim, that spiritual jealousy, for our next level, the level where we see others, but where we have not yet reached ourselves.

Whatever pain we have for our lack of spiritual growth, for our lack of spiritual elevation, is the gift, the Light, and the ability that we will receive. And this, again, is one of the great gifts that Aaron gives us on this Shabbat. Because to whatever degree you feel that pain is the degree of Light you are going to receive, the gifts you are going to receive, and the blessings you are then going to be able to awaken for yourself and the world.

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