Up for Debate

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This module contains one key debate amongst the various classical commentaries of Chumash.

This parsha describes the inauguration of Aharon and his sons into their position as priests in the mishkan. The process is  extensive and involved many ceremonial offerings brought by the future priests. The Torah describes Moshe playing a pivotal role in the process, acting in the role of the High Priest for the inauguration process. But was this the only time that Moshe did so?

There is a dispute regarding this quoted in the Talmud (Zevachim 102A)

“And the anger of God burned against Moshe (Shemot 4:14)” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korcḥa says: For every burning anger that is stated in the Torah, its effect is also stated, (i.e., the Torah records an action or pronouncement as a consequence of that anger), but in this case no effect of the anger is stated.


Rabbi Shimon ben Yocḥai says: Even in this case the anger’s effect is stated, as it is stated there: “Is there not Aaron your brother the Levite? I know that he can speak well.” This is what God is saying to Moses: I initially said that you would be the priest and he would be the Levite; now he will be the priest and you will be the Levite. And the Rabbis say: Moses became a priest for the seven days of inauguration alone, and after that his priesthood expired. And some say: The priesthood expired only for the descendants of Moses, but Moses himself remained a priest, as it is stated: “But as for Moses the man of God, his sons are named among the tribe of Levi” (implying Moshe himself was a Priest) (I Chronicles 23:14) 

We see there are a number of opinions regarding to what extent Moshe functioned as a Priest.

Food for Thought: Why might the Rabbis have been inclined to assume Moshe did or did not also assume the role of a Priest?