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“And strip Aharon of his vestments and dress Elazar his son in them.” (20:26)

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In the Midrash, Chazal recount a fascinating story about the transfer of Aharon’s vestments to Elazar, his son.  It is forbidden to dress the Kohen Gadol in any manner other than the prescribed order: He first dons the undergarments, followed by the outer garments. In order to dress Elazar properly, Moshe would have had to remove all of Aharon’s clothes.  What was he to do?

Hashem performed a great miracle for Aharon. Whenever Moshe removed one of Aharon’s priestly garments, he found him clothed underneath with a corresponding Heavenly garment, so that Aharon’s body was actually never bared. Another miracle took place during the transfer of the clothing from Aharon to Elazar. As soon as Aharon removed a garment, Elazar immediately donned it. This would have caused Elazar to put everything on in the wrong order, donning the outer clothing prior to the inner clothing.  Once again, a miracle occurred in which everything turned “outside in,” and Elazar was dressed properly. We must endeavor to understand the need for such a miracle. Why could Elazar not wait until all of Aharon’s clothes were removed and then don them in proper sequence?

We suggest that it was essential that Aharon see his son clothed in the vestments of Kehunah Gedolah as a lesson to us all. The greatest hope of every Jewish parent is to live to see nachas from his child. Regrettably, a parent’s passing is often the stimulus for a change in a child’s behavior.  All too often, it is not until the funeral that the children begin to reflect upon their responsibility to compensate their parent for their investment in them. The kaddish should not be the catalyst for remorse and change.

Hashem sought to use Aharon’s death as a paradigm for a parent’s passing from this world. Aharon saw his son ascend to the Kehunah Gedolah during his last moments on this earth. He saw that his investment had indeed brought a remarkable return.  So too, the hope of every parent is that he sees his children reflect the tradition which was transmitted to them.

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