Be All That You Can Be
When the Torah speaks of the tasks of Moshe and Aharon the pasuk first states Aharon’s name before Moshe’s, and then in the next pasuk states Moshe’s name first and then Aharon's. Rashi explains that sometimes the Torah mentions Moshe first and sometimes mentions Aharon first to teach that the two of them are equal.
The Brisker Rav sharpens Rashi's point by noting the context in which each name was stated first. When saying that Hashem spoke to the two of them, which was Moshe’s domain (as he was the only one who spoke face to face to Hashem), Aharon’s name is stated first. When saying that they spoke to Pharaoh, Aharon’s domain (as he was the one who spoke to Pharaoh and not Moshe), Moshe’s name is mentioned first. The fact that each one gets precedent in the area which was not his strength proves that they are equal.
How could it be that Moshe and Aharon were equal? Granted, Aharon was a tremendous tzaddik and the first Kohen Gadol, but how could he be compared to the master of all nevi'im, the man who spoke to Hashem face to face and went to shamayim to receive the Torah? Surely, Moshe Rabeinu is on a level of his own!
Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his Darash Moshe, explains that success is not measured by accomplishments, but rather by the person’s success in fulfilling the tasks that Hashem equipped him for in this world. Every person is given a unique ability and a specific tafkid -mission that he is set out to accomplish. Some are given tremendous abilities and expected to achieve a great deal, while others are given lesser abilities and have correspondingly smaller tasks. Every person’s responsibility, however, is identical, to use the skills he has to the fullest.
It is true that Aharon was not Moshe, but he was not supposed to be, as he was not given the gifts and tasks that Moshe was endowed with. He was, however, extremely successful in utilizing his G-d given abilities to accomplish the tasks set for him in the world, just as Moshe was. In this way, he was exactly equal to Moshe. Furthermore, any person who utilizes his abilities in this world is also as great as Aharon and Moshe.
The Gemrara (Bava Basra 10b) relates that Yosef the son of R’ Yehoshua was very ill and his soul left his body, and then returned. His father asked him, "What did you see in your glimpse of the next world?" He replied “Olam hafuch raetei…” - "I saw an upside-down world where great ones were below and low ones we above." His father responded “Olam barur raeta,”- "You saw a world of clarity, for this is the truth."
The simple level of learning this Gemara is that R' Yosef saw a world in which the kings and powerful people were at a low level. He was surprised at their lack of status in the next world so his father explained that these lofty positions have little standing in the next world. Rav Moshe is unsatisfied with this interpretation. Surely, he asks; R' Yosef knew that the power in this world is meaningless in the next world! Why then, would he describe the situation he saw as upside down?
Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that R' Yosef, in fact, saw great, learned people in positions of lesser prominence than more simple Jews, and it was this that he could not understand. His father explained to him that these simple Jews were given much honor, and were deserving of this honor because they were people who used their G-d given abilities to achieve the portions that Hashem set out for them. They fulfilled their missions.
The learned sages, continued R’ Yehoshua, had certainly accomplished a great deal, but they could have accomplished even more. They left a greater percentage of their potential unfulfilled, and were subsequently given a lesser status in the next world. This is the way of Hashem’s judgment. Not everyone is set out to be the Gadol Hador, but if one figures out what his unique abilities are and use them to the fullest to complete his tafkid, he will be zocheh to a prominent place in Olam Habah.