Rabbi Aryeh Levin was known as the "Rabbi of the Prisoners." Living in the Land of Israel prior to the State of Israel's declaration of independence, he would visit Jewish boys and girls who were incarcerated in British prisons – most of them freedom fighters for the various Jewish underground militias that operated at the time – and served as the go-between between many inmates and their families outside the prison walls.

Rabbi Levin was a caring and loving man, and he'd actively seek out those in dire need. He was always there to help them—whether it meant providing for their physical or spiritual needs.

He was unique in that his warm relationship with the secular left-wing communities was no different than his strong ties with the religious Jerusalemites. An integral part of his approach was that he did not discount the non-religious or the religious.

His grandchild once visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe asked him, "How does your grandfather get along with the religious groups and the zealots [who may not appreciate his close association with the non-religious]?" He responded, "Grandfather has a 'consensus,' he gets along with everyone."

"Aaron, my brother is worthier and more important than I. Through his service will the Shechinah rest among you..."The Rebbe responded, "Please tell him in my name, we learn in Ethics of our Fathers [3:10], 'One who is pleasing to his fellow men, is pleasing to G‑d…' It does not say, 'One who is pleasing to scholars or the religious.' It says if the general public is pleased with you, in Heaven, too, they are pleased with you."

Down to Earth

"They shall make Me a dwelling place so that I may dwell among them"1

At long last G‑d was ready to "settle down."2

Sinai had been nice, but temporary; the Temple would be nice and permanent.

Here's how it happened:

For seven days, the Tabernacle, along with Aaron and his sons, were inaugurated.

G‑d's presence, however, was a no-show. In the words of Rashi3:

For all of the seven days of the inauguration, during which Moses daily erected the Tabernacle, officiated in it, and dismantled it, the Shechinah (G‑d's Presence) did not rest in it.

Israel was ashamed. They said to Moses, "Moses our teacher! All the trouble we went to so that the Shechinah should reside in our midst has been in vain."

[Moses responded:] "'This is the thing that G‑d has commanded you to do in order for His Glory to appear to you.' Aaron, my brother is worthier and more important than I.4 Through his offerings and his service will the Shechinah rest among you, and you will know that the Omnipresent has chosen him."

While it was Moses who brought the Torah down to earth, it was Aaron who brought G‑d down to earth.5

But what was it about Aaron that caused him, and not Moses, to merit facilitating this unique and historic changeover? Why was only Aaron's invitation for G‑d to dwell on earth accepted?

Additionally, how are we to understand Moses' admission that, "my brother is worthier and more important than I"?

A Minister of Love

There are two ways to get a sinner to repent: Through words of reproach, or through a hugBoth Moses and Aaron loved the Jewish people to pieces; both of them wanted the children of G‑d to be the best they could possibly be. Their ways of achieving this goal, however, could not have been more different.

There are two ways to get a sinner to repent: Through words of reproach, or through a hug.

Moses' first recorded words in the Bible, uttered upon seeing a Hebrew fistfight, are: "Why are you beating your fellow [even if he is wicked like you]?"6

Moses didn't beat around the bush. He reprimanded his brethren out of concern.

If Aaron had been there he might have said it differently. As the Midrash recounts7:

When Aaron would pass a wicked man, he would greet him warmly. The next day, when the wicked man would want to engage in sin, he would think to himself, "Woe is to me! How will I be able to look upon Aaron tomorrow when he greets me with love?"

Others would think, "If Aaron only knew the hidden things of my heart and the evil of my deeds he would not allow himself to look at me, let alone speak to me. Yet he considers me to be a fine person—let me therefore make his words and thoughts true by changing my ways."

Aaron transformed people through love and his confidence in them.

The different approaches of Moses and Aaron are summed up in the Midrashic statement: "Aaron would never mention a person's sin to them, while Moses would rebuke them."8

It's not that Aaron didn't care about their spiritual wellbeing. Nothing could be further from the truth. "Hillel said: Be of the disciples of Aaron, who loved his fellow creatures and drew them close to Torah."9

Aaron shared Moses' passion for drawing people close to G‑d.10 His modus operandi, however, was his all-embracing attitude, directed even at those whose only redeeming factor was that they were G‑d's creatures.11

Indeed Aaron's success at drawing people close to G‑d was legendary. In the words of the Prophet Malachi regarding Aaron12: "In peace and uprightness he walked with Me; he brought back many from iniquity."

A Minister of Reconciliation

A lovely Midrash13 further enhances our image of Aaron:

When Aaron saw two people involved in a quarrel, he would say to each of them, without the knowledge of the other, "My child, see how your friend is berating himself with remorse because of what he did to you? He asked me to approach you to seek your forgiveness." When the two would meet, their quarrel would disappear and they would embrace.

Indeed, according to the Midrash, Aaron's successful "mediation" saved many marriages from disintegrating.14

Thousands of little children, direct products of his reconciliatory efforts, were named AaronAs a heartfelt token of his marriage counseling, thousands of little children, direct products of his reconciliatory efforts, were named Aaron, after the man whose influence helped bring them into being.

Peace through Peace

But what of Moses, we wonder, was he not a man of peace as well?

Isn't Moses introduced to us by the Torah as a man who sought to resolve conflict between one Hebrew and the next? Why, Moses even extended his peace efforts towards his archenemies!15 How much more committed to peace can one be?

But there are two ways to bring about peace; through compromise or firmness.

While the end goal of both Moses and Aaron was the same – to create a loving and harmonious camp of Israel – their means of achieving that noble dream differed greatly.

Moses was a man of inflexible truth.

Aaron was more fluid and accepting.

While at times, Moses, due to his uncompromising commitment to integrity, needed to resort to conflict in order to achieve peace,16 Aaron achieved peace through peace.

This might be the deeper meaning behind Hillel's statement, "Aaron loved peace, and pursued peace."

To Aaron, both the means and the end were peace.

It was this exceptional trait of Aaron's that so endeared him to the people of Israel.

Which is why regarding his passing the Torah says, "The entire assembly [men, women and children] wept for Aaron thirty days…",17 as opposed to the passing of Moses where only "the sons of Israel [the males] wept for Moses…"18

"[This is] because Aaron would pursue peace and instill peace between man and his fellow and between a wife and her husband, therefore the entire house of Israel mourned him."19

Aaron, a man of peace, merited welcoming G‑d, whose name is peace, into the worldHow appropriate, then, that G‑d, who "finds pleasing anyone who the spirit of people finds pleasing," took up Aaron's gracious offer to reside among His beloved children.

For while it was Moses, a man of truth, who merited delivering the "Torah of Truth" to the world, it was Aaron, a man of peace, who merited welcoming G‑d, whose name is peace, into the world.

What's in It for Me?

Loving our fellows is at the center of religion.

The students of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi once asked him: What is a greater form of Divine worship—loving G‑d or loving our fellow?

"Loving our fellow," he replied. "Since in doing so we love those that our Beloved one loves." 20

The way to welcome G‑d into our hearts is through welcoming our neighbor there first!21