Kenneth Cohen

Why Aharon Was Chosen Over Moshe

The Torah describes the initiation of Aharon as the Kohein Hagadol, the High Priest of Israel. There are commentators who felt that Moshe Rabbeinu was disappointed that he was not given this position.

Clearly, the relationship between the two brothers, was most admirable. There was genuine love between them and no jealousy. Aharon had no problem that his younger brother was chosen to be the equivalent of the king of Israel. The appointment of Aharon, was more a question of curiosity rather than sour grapes.

The Maggid of Dubnov tried to explain the reason for this appointment. The role of the Kohein Hagadol, and all Kohanim, for that matter, was to bring atonement to the people of Israel. In order to do this, the people needed to feel that they could relate to the Kohein.

There was a need to feel comfortable enough to confess their sins, so that the Kohein would help the process via sacrifices and repentance. Aharon was more of a regular guy than Moshe. He was more easily approachable and perhaps, more down to earth than Moshe. It was known to all, that Aharon needed his own atonement for his role in the making of the Golden Calf.

Moshe Rabbeinu was on such a high level that he even needed to wear a veil, because of the holiness that radiated from him. He was in constant contact with Hashem, pleading for his people. The loftiness of Moshe, made him less approachable than his brother. This is why Aharon got the job, and not Moshe, according to the Maggid.

There are times when we are captivated by the scholar who commands huge audiences to hear his Torah. People are moved by such speakers. But such people may not be as approachable as the teacher that connects with his students on a more personal level.
Both types of educators are beneficial, as we can learn a great deal from both. Moshe had his special role in leading the people. But Aharon’s role was equally important in helping the masses get closer to Hashem.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at