* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
A life-changing principle is found in the opening words of this week's Torah portion: "Speak to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon." Here God is saying to Moshe Rabbeinu that he should first tell the Kohanim that they are the sons of Aharon. But why is this necessary? Don't the Kohanim already know their lineage?
The Zohar offers this explanation: Before everything else, the Kohanim must first be reminded of the significance of their roots, of their magnificent ancestor, Aharon HaKohen -- that he was a teacher and spiritual guide who cared only for peace, love, and unity. Only then, when the Kohanim know from where they came, does it make sense to give them instructions that they will be prepared to follow. First and foremost, they need to feel elevated and connected to something higher than themselves.
Our sages say that God calls to each of us in this manner: "Know from where you came." Become familiar with the generations that came before you, all the way back to the beginning. This will fill you with a powerful sense of purpose. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that if we go backwards in time, to our grandfather and grandfather's grandfather, we will reach the root of everything: "Look at Avraham your father and at Sarah who gave you birth."
Whoever reads these words is the descendant of Avraham and Sarah. May this knowledge inspire us to begin each day committed to a unique mission and a vision for the future.