Behaloscha: Rashi v. Ramban: Cash v. Action

The parsha Bahalotscha starts with the description of Aaron lighting the Menorah. Rashi asks his famous question: why is the parsha of the Menorah preceded by the gifts the 12 princes brought in honor of the 12 days of leading to the inauguration of the Mishkan(tabenacle). Rashi answers that the concepts are together because Aaron was sad as he watched all the princes bringing their gifts and he was not part of the giving. According to Rashi, Gd tells him, don’t worry, your involvement in lighting the Menorah will be just as great.

Ramban disagrees. Ramban questions Rashi by saying, “why did he not say you will offer the incense or other forms of Avodah, why the Menorah?” Ramban’s answer is that these two parshiot are a segue or connector to Aaron knowing that through his progeny, the Hasmoneans, the miracle of Hanukah will occur.

What is the conflict here? The Shikkerdovid would like humbly offer an idea. In Rashi, Aaron feels bad that he is not bringing a tangible or physical gift. He feels that he is not contributing as we do today, building buildings, supporting institutions. He is aware that his cash contribution is missing. The other princes are bringing silver, animals, and lots of physical items. He is left out. The Ramban’s answer is one of action. The juxtaposition between the princes and the Menorah is one to highlight that his progeny will stand up and be heroes.

The Shikkerdovid sees a tension in these answers. Rashi takes Aaron’s sensitivity to mean that he felt bad he was not contributing. Ramban seems to be saying that the juxtaposition is to highlight the heroic deeds which will occur. To the Shikkerdovid, this highlights the age old question. What is greater: giving of your money or giving of your time. The answer is both are equally different and equally easy. People are different. For some, it is easy to write a check, but difficult to chop wood for the old widow. For other (like the cheap Shikkerdovid) it is hard to part with money, but easier to chop the wood. The tension is to learn about yourself.

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