Category Archives: Parshat וארא

Parshat וארא

Parshat וארא Shmos 6:26 – Who was greater Moshe or Aharon?

Shmos – 6:26 – This is Aharon and Moshe to whom G-d said, “Take the Children of Israel out of Egypt according to their legions.”

Tosefta at the end of Kritot: In all places it mentions Moshe before Aharon. But in one place it says “Aharon and Moshe”. This is to teach you that they were equal.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #19:

In a Mishnah in Kritot 8(a) it lists many things that are equal and it doesn’t list Moshe and Aharon. We need to look further into why this is the case.

Possibly one can say that in the Mishnah it only lists items whose equality has a halachic importance. Also, possibly one can say that they are not listed because, really, in truth they were not equal. For example, we see that Moshe had some characteristics/ abilities that no one else had. He went up to heaven and stayed there for forty days and forty nights, etc.

Similarly, in Moshe’s personal attributes, the Torah explicitly says that “the man Moshe was very humble, more than any man on the face of the earth”. Obviously, this would include more than Aharon.  Furthermore, the posuk says “there will never rise in Israel a prophet like Moshe”. Also, it mentions in a Tosefta Megilla Chapter 3 ‘that a secondary person serves as translator for the main person but it is not honorable for the main person to serve as a translator for the secondary person; as the posuk says ‘Aharon will be your translator’”. Behold, it is calling Moshe the greater one, in comparison with Aharon. That is why the Mishnah did not include Moshe and Aharon in the list of things in this world that are equal.

So the idea mentioned that by the Tosefta that Moshe and Aharon are equal appears to be a result of an exact reading of the posuk above where it puts Aharon first and then Moshe when dealing with taking the Jews out of Egypt. Compared with the next posuk where it mentions going to speak to Pharoah and mentions Moshe first and then Aharon. Now, it is well known that the main “actor” on G-d’s behalf in taking the Jews out of Egypt was Moshe; Aharon was secondary. Conversely, in regards to speaking to Pharoah and his ministers and magicians, Aharon was the one doing it. In this particular of speaking to Pharoah, Moshe was secondary. So, according to this, when speaking about taking the Jews out of Egypt, Moshe should have been mentioned first and then Aharon. And when dealing with speaking to Pharoah, Aharon should have been mentioned first, and then Moshe.

But, amazingly, we see the exact opposite in the posuk 26 and posuk 27. Come and look and see that in posuk 26 where it discusses taking the Jews out of Egypt, Aharon is mentioned first. Then in posuk 27 where it discusses going and speaking to Pharoah, Moshe is mentioned first. This is astounding. Now we see why the Tosefta said that this shows that they were equal. Meaning to say that they were both equally fitting and appropriate to be the primary actors in either taking the Jews out of Egypt or in speaking to Pharoah. G-d gave each one a task to do, but either could have done either task. One was assigned the active role and one assigned the speaking role.

DBS Note: It is wonderful and unusual to say that Moshe and Aharon were actually equals. Perhaps this is a good lesson for people who are struggling with their roles in life.