The Torah portion of Shemini describes the events that took place “on the eighth day,”1 following the seven days of the Mishkan s dedication. On that day, Moshe and Aharon “left the Mishkan and blessed the Jewish people.”2

Rashi3 explains the purpose of the blessing as follows: “They recited ‘May the pleasantness of G‑d be upon us; [establish for us the work of our hands…]’4 For during the entire seven days of dedication, during which Moshe would daily raise the Mishkan, perform the service therein, and dismantle it, the Divine Presence did not reside within it.”

The Jewish people were embarrassed, and said to Moshe: ‘We put in a tremendous amount of labor so that the Divine Presence would reside within us and we would know that we were forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf [and it has yet to happen].’

“Moshe therefore said to them: ‘This is what G‑d has commanded. Do it and G‑d’s glory will be revealed to you.’ [Moshe concluded:] ‘My brother Aharon is more fitting and worthier than I; through his offerings and service the Divine Presence shall rest among you.”

What made Moshe so sure that the Divine Presence would reside through Aharon’s service, when his seven days of service were not successful in bringing about the revelation?

One of the cardinal differences between Aharon and Moshe was in their manner of spiritual service. Moshe’s service caused G‑dliness to descend from above to below, while Aharon’s uplifted the Jewish people from below to above, for he was “a lover of creatures, who drew them close to the Torah.”5

Thus we find it said of Aharon: “When you kindle the lights,” referring to his effect on Jewish souls, which are likened to lights of G‑d, as the verse says: “The soul of man is the lamp of G‑d.”

While both Moshe’s and Aharon’s service are important, the ultimate purpose of creation is served by the service of Aharon.

The proof that this is so can be adduced from the comment of the Midrash6 with regard to G‑d’s giving of the Torah. The Midrash likens the event to two countries whose borders were closed; the inhabitants of one could not enter the other. Then a treaty was arranged and the borders were opened.

The sealed borders, says the Midrash , resembled the state of events prior to G‑d’s giving the Torah — terrestrial beings could not ascend on high and G‑d did not descend below. These restrictions were lifted with the giving of the Torah. It was then possible for the physical to become holy, and G‑d would descend below.

The Midrash concludes that G‑d said: “ ‘I shall begin,’ as the verse states: ‘G‑d descended on Sinai,’7 and only then does it go on to say: ‘And to Moshe He said: Go up to G‑d.’ ”8

Since G‑d said He would take the first step, it is understandable that this was a prelude to the final and most important step, the elevation from below to above — “And to Moshe He said: ‘Go up to G‑d.”

This is also why the Midrash stresses that “terrestrial beings would ascend on high” even before it states that “those above would descend below.” The Midrash does so notwithstanding the fact that the order of events was actually the reverse — first G‑d descended and only then did He tell Moshe to ascend.

This is because the Midrash teaches us that the most important thing is not G‑d’s descent to man and the world, but man’s ascent to G‑d.

Since causing the ascent from below to above was the service of Aharon, Moshe was sure that when his brother began to perform his service it would cause the Divine Presence to be revealed within the Mishkan and the Jewish people.

There is an important lesson here. Should a person desire that the Divine Presence reside within him and illuminate the labor of his hands, it is vital that he “be of the students of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow creatures, and bringing them near to the Torah.”9

By doing so, a person not only does a favor for his fellows but for himself as well. By elevating his fellow, he merits that the Divine Presence resides within himself.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. VII, pp. 298-299.