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It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said, "Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions." They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt-this same Moses and Aaron. - Exodus 6:26-27

This Torah portion for this week is Va'eira, which means "and I appeared," from Exodus 6:2-9:35, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 28:25-29:21.

An old Hasidic tale tells the story of a renowned rabbi who wanted to know who his neighbor would be in heaven. He prayed fervently for the privilege of knowing who this person would be. After much fasting and prayer, the rabbi had a dream one night where he was shown the man who would be his neighbor in paradise. It was none other than the town butcher! The rabbi was sure that the dream was meaningless - it just couldn't be. The rabbi was the holiest man in the town; the butcher was an ignoramus who sold meat. However, the dream repeated itself until the rabbi was convinced that it was true. He met with the butcher and got to know him a little better. He discovered a man who was unusually kind and charitable, truly a worthy neighbor for eternity.

We all come to the world with a purpose and mission for our lives. But it's not the size of the mission that determines the greatness of the person. Rather, it's the size of the person that determines the greatness of his or her mission.

Some of us were sent here to fulfill huge missions; others were sent for much smaller purposes. Some are called to be spiritual leaders. Others are called to be chimney sweepers. It doesn't matter what our job in this world is. It's how we do it and how we treat others in the process that determines our greatness in God's eyes.

In Exodus 6:26-27, we notice that at first God referred to "Aaron and Moses," but then referred to the pair as "Moses and Aaron." The Jewish sages teach that we learn from this that Moses and Aaron were equal in their greatness.

But how can this be? As great as Aaron was, it was Moses who brought down the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai, Moses who gave us the Bible, and Moses who took the Israelites out of Egypt. In Deuteronomy 34, the Bible tells us that Moses was the greatest prophet who ever lived. How can we say that Aaron was his equal?

The answer is, as we have been saying, that the size of the mission isn't what matters. Both Aaron and Moses fulfilled their respective purposes on earth, and therefore, they were equal in greatness.

The sages teach, "There is nothing more beloved to God than a person who puts all of his heart and soul into fulfilling his mission." It doesn't matter if you were put here to run a Fortune 500 company or to run a household. When you put your heart and soul into doing what you were put here to do, nothing is more precious to God.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President


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