Sedra of the Week: Shemini
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

Sedra of the Week: Shemini

Pnina Savery looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)
Torah scroll (Photo by Tanner Mardis on Unsplash)

“Keep calm and carry on” is a favourite British motto. It stems from the stiff upper lip attitude that helped the public stay strong in the face of hardships endured during two world wars.

In this week’s Parsha we read of the tragic death of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu. There are numerous explanations for their death: from their unauthorised entry into the innermost sanctuary to offering sacrifices after drinking alcohol. 

Perhaps the most outstanding part is Aharon’s response. The text tells us that “Aharon was silent”. There is no outpouring of grief, Aharon continues to carry out his duties in the Tabernacle service. 

Rabbi Eliezer Lipman Lichtenstein provides an interesting insight into Aharon’s reaction. The word va’yidom is used for silence, rather than vayishtok. While the latter denotes an absence of weeping and moaning, the former represents inner peace and calm. Thus, va’yidom portrays Aharon’s ability to accept the situation without questioning. 

This saintly attitude is a clear reference to Aharon’s greatness, which is not something that can be easily emulated. However, his resilience reminds me strongly of the “stiff upper lip” attitude, which can help us to endure struggles. 

Kohelet (3:4) tells us there is a “time for weeping and a time for laughing, a time for mourning and a time for dancing”. Aharon needed to “keep calm and carry on”. 

The past year has sent us new challenges with many reasons to weep and mourn. When we lose a loved one, that loss will always be with us. But Judaism’s structured mourning process gives a framework to grieve, encouraging us to try to find the resilience that will enable us to rebuild our lives. 

  •   Pnina Savery is a United Synagogue educator 

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more:
comments