Sedra of the Week: Shemini 

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Sedra of the Week: Shemini 

 Rabbi Jonny Roodyn takes a look at this week's portion of the Torah

Rabbi Jonny Roodyn

At the climax of the Jewish people’s joy, the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), disaster struck. The two elder sons of Aaron, the ones who were destined to follow in  his footsteps, died a sudden and supernatural death. 

Aaron, the great lover of peace, the one who was always so attentive to human pain and suffering responds with… silence. At a time of tragedy there are no words; it is not the time for philosophical speculation, rather inner contemplation and ultimately acceptance. Aaron’s silence was not one of weakness, rather one of strength. He did not experience a crisis of faith, rather a deepening of it. 

The Tabernacle was intended to be a place of an intense expression of closeness to the Almighty. Aaron’s faithfulness demonstrated that faith is not about the external trappings of religion, but rather, internalising the reality that the Almighty has a plan, even if we do not understand it. 

After experiencing such a trauma, Aaron could have been excused for giving up, but he keeps on going and  serves the people of Israel loyally
for the next 39 years, with renewed energy and strength. His silence is an expression of his faith and it is this faith that gives him the inner strength to continue into the unknown, despite the immense challenges ahead. 

While we are not on Aaron’s level of faith, we can certainly strive to emulate those great people who turned adversity into opportunity, using challenges, both personal and global, to propel them to greater things. 

Wishing every member of the community good health, strength and courage to persevere during these troubled times and to make the most of the unusual circumstances we all find ourselves in. 

Heartfelt thanks also go out to Jewish News for providing me and countless other rabbanim with the opportunity to share Torah thoughts with such a broad audience in this column. May new opportunities arise very soon.

  •  Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures and serves Finchley Federation Synagogue 
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