At some point we stand before a dilemma asking ourselves:
“Am I up to and suitable for this task or role that I have received?”
Sometimes we even feel that others value us much more than we value ourselves. And this may create fear in us that at any moment we will be exposed and others will see us in all our weakness, that they will see us as phonies and cheats.
Do you know this feeling?
If so you are in good company. This syndrome has a name in psychology – the “imposter syndrome.” Those with this syndrome feel that they do not deserve their successes. They often attribute success to their “good luck” and not to talent or ability. This syndrome is surprisingly common, especially among high achievers. It is a very human phenomenon, and it indicates something very important in life.
In the book of Leviticus, Moses instructs Aaron:
“Approach the altar and perform your sin offering and your burnt offering; and make atonement for yourself and for the people. And make the sacrifice for the people and make atonement for them as God commanded.” (Leviticus 9:7)
Why does Moses have to tell Aaron to approach the altar, to come closer?
After all, by virtue of his job as high priest, Aaron was supposed to be near the altar and receive the offerings of the people. But it turns out that he was distant and insecure. So Moses “wakes him up” and orders him to come closer.
Aaron felt insecure and unworthy – and for good reason. The golden calf episode was still weighing heavily on him. It had happened on his watch. He was the one who had allowed this great sin to be committed. He was the one who suggested to the people that they collect the gold jewelry. And he is the one who made the golden calf idol out of the gold.
The sin of the golden calf lay upon the people for many years. It can be said that to this day it is still with us.
And Moses indeed thrust the guilt in Aaron’s face. When Moses came down from the mountain and discovered the disaster, he rebuked his brother: “What did this people do to you that caused you to bring such a great sin upon them?”
So it’s no wonder that now Aaron feels the gravity of the sin and no doubt asked himself in his heart:
“Isn’t it hypocritical that someone like me, who caused the people to distance themselves from God, would become a high priest and be the one who brings the people closer to God? To be the one who on the Day of Atonement will atone for the sins of the entire nation!?”
These are very legitimate thoughts. Moses, for his part, does not try to increase Aaron’s confidence, nor help him push aside his difficult thoughts. Wise Moshe tells Aaron something much greater. He tells him something life-changing:
“That’s what you were chosen for.”
Moses shows us a very interesting and important point.
Aaron, because of his monumental failure, knows what sin is! His sin still weighs upon him. He knows what it’s like to feel guilty since he is unable to escape the guilt that has been on him since the sin of the golden calf.
Aaron, more than anyone else, understands the need for repentance and atonement! His soul yearns to be cleansed of this heavy sin that hangs over him.
And therefore, the very wound and weakness in Aaron’s past, can be redeemed to help him fulfill his role in the best possible manner.
This weakness will become his strength.
And both Aaron and the people will be able to understand what atonement is every time anew. And how did Moses know this? Because Moses himself had already experienced something similar.
Moses had also tried to run away from his calling. In his case it was the task of confronting Pharaoh. Moses tried to get out of it under the pretext that he was not capable, that he was not able to speak well. And eventually he became the greatest orator (but we will save that for another article).
So to everyone who identifies with this imposter syndrome, I say this:
As soon as we can identify what our deep wound is (and God knows each of us has their own wound)…
As soon as we identify what is the thing we are most afraid of…
We will discover that somewhere hidden within this wound is our mission, our calling, our destiny. And not only that, but the mission will also bring healing to the wound. Because every time that Aaron afterward led the Israelites out of their transgressions and atoned for them, he also experienced anew atonement for his own great sin, each time a little more and a little more. This deep healing brings us closer to our mission, brings us closer to ourselves, and helps us to have the faith to accept the gift of destiny we received from God the day we were born.
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