Aharon HaKohen was destined to live another forty years at the most. The chances are that in the future the metzora will present himself to one of Aharon’s descendants. Why is Aharon mentioned here for posterity, when, in fact, his tenure was short? The Tiferes Shlomo explains that the achievements of tzaddikim inspire for generations to come – long after they have left this world. He relates an incident that occurred concerning the Arizal, one time when he was sitting surrounded by his students. In came Horav Shmuel DiOzida, zl, author of the Midrash Shmuel, who was a young man at the time. He came to speak with the Arizal. When the Arizal saw him, he immediately rose from him chair and stood up for the young Rav Shmuel. He sat him down by his side and spoke with him endearingly and with great respect. When Rav Shmuel left, Horav Chaim Vital, zl, primary student of the Arizal, asked his revered Rebbe why he had shown favor to the young man. He had observed many distinguished Rabbanim come and go and never did the holy Arizal express himself in such a manner. The Arizal explained that it was the neshamah, soul, of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair that had entered into Rav Shmuel, so he deferred to him. Apparently, Rav Shmuel had performed a mitzvah in such a special manner that was consistent with the way in which Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair acted. Therefore, it was decided that the neshamah of the holy Tanna had transmigrated into Rav Shmuel, so that he would be inspired to continue acting in such a manner.
Rav Chaim immediately took leave of his Rebbe and pursued Rav Shmuel. “What mitzvah did you perform that created such a stir in Heaven?” he asked. Rav Shmuel explained, “My practice is to go to shul early, so that I can be among the first ten worshippers to form the minyan, quorum. As I was on my way, I walked by a house from which I heard loud weeping. I entered immediately to see a family without clothes on. (They were obviously concealing themselves behind whatever makeshift furniture they had.) They said that robbers had broken in, ransacked their house and taken anything of value. They even took their clothing off their backs. I took pity on them and removed my clothing which I gave to the head of the household. I ran home to put on my Shabbos clothes which you can see I am now wearing.” When Rav Chaim heard this story, he immediately kissed Rav Shmuel and returned to the Arizal, who verified the story.
The Tiferes Shlomo explains that (according to the Zohar HaKodesh) Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair exemplified himself in the performance of chesed. When one follows in the ways of our Patriarch, Avraham Avinu, and reaches out with love and kindness to others, the Patriarch arises and stands in his behalf before Hashem. Aharon HaKohen was a paradigm of chesed, pursuing peace and reaching out to his fellow Jews to bring them closer to Torah. This is the epitome of chesed. Thus the nomenclature, ish chasidecha. (Tumecha v’urecha l’ish chasidecha; “Your Tumim and Urim befit Your devout one”) (Chasidecha is translated here as devout) [Devarim 33:8, Moshe Rabbeinu’s berachah to Shevet Levi]. Their every focus was on seeking and pursuing peace and reaching out to others with acts of lovingkindness. Whoever follows Aharon’s lead will have his support. This is what it means to be of the talmidim, students, of Aharon HaKohen. Therefore, one who has reason to go to a Kohen – a student of Aharon – is as if he is going to Aharon, because Aharon assists those who emulate his acts of lovingkindness.