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D'var Torah given to UJC Board of Trustees (January 8, 2008)

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shal mark for you the beginning of the months . . . (Ex. 12:1-2)

D'var Torah:

Many commentators have wondered why this mitzvah was given to Moses and Aaron. Why not just to Moses, as are most mitzvot?

According to the Midrash, "This month is for you . . ." was said in order to permit them to declare a leap year (adding an extra month). And as it says in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 18a) that we do not exclusively empower the king or the high priest in these calculations. Why not? The king - because of rations, the providing of food and salaries for the army, since he must pay an annual amount - he would benefit one month's wages if they declared a leap year [he would receive 13 months' work for 12 months pay]. And the high prist - because of the cold. He would benefit if the leap year were not declared, since Yom Kippur would then be early, and he would not have to immerse himself in the mikvah and wash his hands and feet in the cold season.

But it is reasonable to think that the two of them together should sit and determine the year. The king would want to shorten the year and the priest would not, and from this "balance" would emerge the true judgment. And since Moses was like the king and Aaron would become the high priest, thus this section was spoken to both of them together.

"This month" - if you choose to determine the leap year - it is "for you" - only when the two of you are together. However, one of you alone may not make this decision.

There is a real similarity between this concept and our Constitutional idea of "balance of powers." Each branch or each house of Congress has its own interests and must be balanced by the other.

Indeed, decisions often are best made by various arms of an organization as it is best to have representation of all "stakeholders" - those who are immediately affected by a decision - involved in order to attain a balanced result.

We should try not to make decisions for others, but with them.

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