One of the daily features of the Mishkan service was the service of preparing and lighting the Menora. The Torah highlights that Ahron took the ceremony deeply seriously:
דַּבֵּר, אֶל-אַהֲרֹן, וְאָמַרְתָּ, אֵלָיו: בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ, אֶת-הַנֵּרֹת, אֶל-מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה, יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת. וַיַּעַשׂ כֵּן, אַהֲרֹן–אֶל-מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה, הֶעֱלָה נֵרֹתֶיהָ: כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה, אֶת-מֹשֶׁה – Speak to Ahron, and say to him; “When you rise to light the Menora, light seven candles.” Ahron did so; he lit the candles on the Menora, just as Hashem had commanded Moshe. (8:2-3)
But if you think about it for a minute, it’s a little odd to say that Ahron followed his instructions – וַיַּעַשׂ כֵּן / כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה. What is so noteworthy about doing what he was supposed to do – how else would he light the Menora?
Picking up on this strange remark, Rashi quotes the Sifri that Ahron performed his duties scrupulously, precisely the way he was told for the rest of his life, and never changed or deviated in any way.
R’ Simcha Bunim of Peshischa notes that as much as the comment is about Ahron not changing how he performed his duties, it’s equally a comment about how his duties didn’t change him. Some people let privilege and honor get to their heads – but not Ahron.
The Sfas Emes notes that lighting the Menora wasn’t a particularly prestigious ceremony, in that any Kohen could kindle the lights; but Ahron took it seriously enough that he insisted on doing it himself every day for the rest of his life.
Mastery is typically boring. Finishing your fiftieth marathon is probably less special than your first.
The Ishbitza notes that the highest praise for Ahron is that he retained that initial desire, and it never got stale or boring for him. He kept challenging himself to find something new and exciting, so he lit the Menora his last time with the same enthusiasm as the first.
The more we experience something, the more our enthusiasm and attention typically wane. Predictability and comfort put an end to fresh euphoria; when we know what to expect, our excitement wears off and boredom sets in. That’s why we need to keep things fresh if we’re focused on a long term project or goal.
It’s something often seen with young professional athletes who lose their way – they think they’ve made it, and stop putting in the work that would take them to the elite tier; and the older pros all comment that the youngsters have lost their concentration and focus.
The highest form of mastery is in valuing each repetition and finding the novelty and excitement in it.
By being fully present in each moment, and devoting your undivided attention, things won’t get boring.