Sunday, January 24, 2010

VaEra - Reincarnations of Haran

The reincarnations of Abel continued in the family of Abraham - in Lot, his nephew, and in Haran, his brother. The first letters of “Lot the son of Haran” (לוט בן הרן) constitute the name of Abel (הבל). Haran was burned by Nimrod when he refused to bow down to idols, and was later reincarnated as Aharon. The letters of the name of Aharon contain the letters of the name of Haran.

When Haran was burned, it was not of his own choosing. Abraham was the first one to refuse to bow down to idols, and for this he was thrown into the oven. Haran was waiting to see what would happen to Abraham. When he saw that Abraham was saved, he decided to be on the side of Abraham. They threw him in the oven, and he was burned. Therefore, this burning was not counted a completely meritorious deed for him.

When Haran came back as Aharon, an extra letter Aleph was added to his name. His test was repeated when the people told him, “Come and make a god for us,” and Aharon made an idol, a golden calf. Aharon should have refused and allow himself to be killed, but he did not do it. Instead, his nephew, Hur the son of Miriam, tried to stop the people from worshiping the calf and was killed by them. Hur's soul was from a different root, but a part of Haran was added to him.

Aharon then built (ויבן) the alter. The word ויבן can be translated as “understood”. Aharon understood that Hur had already corrected that part of Haran and reasoned that he did not have to give up his life anymore. However, he was mistaken in this. Therefore his two sons had to die by burning in front of Aharon, just as Haran died in front of his father.

Art: Nicolas Poussin - Adoration of the Golden Calf

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