When faced with unimaginable personal tragedy – the death of his two sons – Aaron’s silence is deafening.
However, in this week’s sedra, Acharei Mot, which means literally, “After the Death”, Aaron the High Priest resumes his regular duties. At the time, Aaron’s response was a dignified silence, containing his personal pain and accepting this was part of a master plan whose details he was not privy to.
After this episode, God invites Aaron to keep on going though instructing him to perform the Yom Kippur service.
This was by far the most complex service in the Temple, but it was one that brought forgiveness and future to the Jewish People on an annual basis. Everything has its time: “A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant, a time to reap.”
Aaron’s response was understandable, commendable under the circumstances, but he couldn’t remain in that place forever.
God therefore tells him it’s time to move on, to keep going.
I cannot help but relate this process of mourning and healing to the period through which we have journeyed as a people over the past 70 years, as reflected in the days of commemoration marked in the Jewish calendar at this time.
We have recently marked Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron with their minutes of silence. Tragedies stun us, they force us to reflect, but our sedra teaches us that should only be a temporary holding pattern. In order to ensure a brighter Jewish future we need to emulate the words of King David, “so that my Soul may make music to You and not be silenced.”
- Naftali Schiff is the founder and CEO of Jewish Futures Trust