Thursday, May 27, 2010

"shelo shina" -- Sefas Emes vs. Ishbitza on why Aharon was praiseworthy

Rashi tells us that the words, "Vaya'as kein Aharon," that Aharon did as told in lighting the menorah, are written in praise of Aharon, "she'lo shina," as he made no changes. The obvious question: Why is doing a mitzvah without change from the way it was commanded deserving of praise and not simply to be expected? The Sefas Emes and the Ishbitza read Rashi as addressing the same point, but head in nearly opposite directions!

Sefas Emes (5735): Of course Aharon did not change anything the first time he lit the menorah; the chiddush is that he didn’t change anything even the ten-thousandth time. Not only was there no deviation in what Aharon did, there was also no deviation in Aharon’s thought and attitude. Most of us need change to prevent boredom and staleness -- not Aharon! He carried with him the exact same thoughts which he had the first time he lit the menorah even years later and those same thoughts continued to inspire him.

Ishbitza: The word “shinah can also mean repetition. The ten thousandth lighting of the menorah may superficially have looked exactly the same as the first lighting, but that was not the case. Every time Aharon lit the menorah he discovered a different nuance to the mitzvah, he had a different thought in mind. Aharon never once repeated the mitzvah the same way as the day before.

The Sefas Emes sees the hischadshus, the enthusiasm and intensity, of the initial lighting as singular and irreplaceable, while the Ishbitza sees hischadshus as an ongoing process. The chanukas hamishkan through lighting the menorah (see Meshech Chochma) can teach us something about the proper approach to chinuch. The word about Slabodka was that after attending, even if you might sin, you would never really enjoy it -- that's the "shelo shina" of the Sefas Emes that lasts a lifetime. But on the other hand, a person needs to be able to develop the ability to pull new tricks out of his own hat and re-charge even when long out of yeshiva. It's somewhat paradoxical, notes the Shem m'Shmuel (in the Chanukah ma'amarim) that the word chinuch, which really means training till a task can be repeated again and again, is related to the word chanukah, inauguration, the first time something is done. This tells us that true chinuch is not merely repetition of past lessons, but the repetition of inaugurations, as each accomplishment brings an opportunity to add something new, "shelo shina" Ishbitza style.


  1. along the lines of not making one's avodah hergel and the daily hischadsuus of accepting the Torah.

  2. Anonymous8:06 PM

    vu gefint men der Ishbitzer shiteh?