Aharon the Kohen Gadol Goes UP – To Heaven

Parshas Chukas #9

Aharon the Kohen Gadol Goes UP – To Heaven

Finally! The 40 years of wandering the desert was just about over. It was Rosh Chodesh Av, the first day of the month of Av, in the year 2887.

Bnei Yisrael camped at the foot of a very interesting mountain called Hor Hahar, “the mountain of mountains.” It was called by this name, not because it was the biggest mountain like Mount Everest, rather due to its strange shape – it looked like one mountain on top of another.

HaShem broke the sad news to Moshe, “Climb up this mountain together with Aharon and his son Elazar. There you will find a cave. This will be where Aharon will die. He shall not enter the Land of Israel, for the time has come for his soul to join his holy ancestors.”

“Oh my!” Moshe exclaimed. “My dear older brother will be parting from this world!”

Hashem continued, “Tell your brother in a gentle way that he shall go up the mountain together with you and his son, Elazar. Aharon’s special Kohen Gadol garments will be transferred to his son. Tell him how fortunate he is that he will witness his son Elazar become the new Kohen Gadol.”

Moshe understood.

“Indeed, my brother is fortunate,” Moshe thought to himself. “I will never see one of my own children, Gershom and Eliezer, take my place as leader of our people. Instead, my student Yehoshua is destined to be the leader.”

This was a difficult task for Moshe, yet he did as he was told. Just about 40 years ago, it was Moshe who made his brother the Kohen Gadol by dressing him in the special Kohen Gadol clothes. Now, 40 years later, it was time for Moshe to remove them from Aharon and transfer them to his Aharon’s son, Elazar, the new Kohen Gadol.

When Moshe, Aharon, and Elazar reached the top of the mountain, they found the cave and went inside. There they found a bed, all made up with soft sheets and blankets. (Oh my! Who made up the bed? Was it HaShem?!) The room was already lit up by a candle. (Oh my again!)

“Aharon,” said Moshe, “HaShem told me to remove your special Kohen Gadol garments, and put them on your son, Elazar. You will have the joy of seeing your son take your place as Kohen Gadol!”

Moshe then instructed his brother, “Lie down on the bed.”

Aharon did so.

“Stretch out your hands.”

Aharon did as he was told.

“Close your mouth.”

Aharon obeyed.

“Close your eyes.”

Moments after his eyes closed, Aharon’s soul left his body peacefully, straight up to Heaven. The holy Tzaddik was now one with HaShem.

Aharon’s passing was an extraordinary way for a person to depart from the world. Only a few holy people merited this type of passing, called, the “Death by the Kiss of HaShem.”

Moshe thought to himself, “I pray that when the time comes I will also experience such a passing.” This special gentle death was merited by all three children of Amram and Yocheved – first Miriam, then Aharon and finally Moshe! Amazing!

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