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Written by The Jersey Shore Temple Bulletin

“And they journeyed from Kadesh, and B’nei Yisrael came, the whole congregation, to Hor Hahar” (Bemidbar 20:22)

Rashi cites a Midrash which is particularly relevant in contemporary times. The pillar of cloud which traveled before B’nei Yisrael leveled out the mountains and flattened the hills which stood in B’nei Yisrael’s way. There remained, however, three mountains which resisted the shattering clouds: Har Sinai was spared, since the Torah would be given on it; Har Nebo was to be Moshe’s burial place; and Hor Hahar was singled out as Aharon’s burial place.

Rav M. Swift poignantly expounds on this Midrash. He draws an analogy between the significance represented by the stated purpose of these mountains and important aspects of Jewish life. On Hor Hahar Aharon transferred his vestments and charge to Elazar, his son. This mountain symbolizes the transmission of our heritage from father to son, generation to generation. A father could pass on in serenity, knowing that he had successfully conveyed the message of the past to the future generation. Such a mountain could never be eliminated.

Har Nebo, on which Moshe spent his last moments before taking leave of B’nei Yisrael, could not be destroyed. Until this day no one has been able to locate Moshe’s grave. Moshe Rabenu’s burial place defies discovery and eludes detection. His soul was bound up with Hashem, Who attended to his mortal remains. A significant message can be gleaned from this concept. While others have transformed the burial place of their leaders into shrines, our immortal leader’s burial place remains unknown. Moshe began the overwhelming ascent upward. He continued to even greater heights of distinction, to walk in eternity.

Har Sinai, the mountain upon which the Torah was given, represents the resoluteness of Jewish life to resist the challenging forces of the changing times. Whether the challengers appear in the form of reformers to distort our legacy or as apologetic moderates to sterilize our heritage, whether they came from within or without, not one letter of the Torah has been altered. The mountain of Torah resists change! The mountain representing Torah devotion resists all adversity and will continue to grow stronger.

The lesson of these mountains is clear. We must be resolute in our commitment to preserve our Torah legacy. We must consistently grow by seeking more knowledge of Torah, and we must be cognizant of our obligation to see that this legacy is transmitted to future generations. With this tri-part commitment, the winds of change will never level the heights of our achievements. (Peninim on the Torah)

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