Parshat Shemini 5777–Shabbat Torah Study–The Silence that Speaks Volumes

At a time of great joy in the sanctification of the Mishkan/Tabernacle, Aaron’s first born sons, Nadav and Avihu, die bringing a special offering of their own.

What did they do to deserve a death sentence? Where was the justice?

The commentators have a number of different suggestions. None of them are particularly satisfying (to me).

Most interesting is Aaron’s response to this tragedy: silence.

How we struggle in life trying to come to grips with the mystery of God’s ways. How we agonize over what we cannot control.

Aaron’s silence actually speaks volumes.

We cannot control the actions of others, especially not God’s, but we can control how we react.

Sometimes we respond quickly, speak impulsively or judge rashly. Responding out of anger and emotion risks much and generally gains little. We sometimes say things we later regret. There is no satisfactory answer to Aaron’s question. He does not even ask it.

Was Aaron just in shock and speechless or was he exercising great inner strength and faith that there were reasons for these deaths, whether or not God has yet shared them?

We cannot judge a person in such unspeakable pain, but we can admire their strength in how they choose to deal with it.

This Shabbat we learn with Rabbi Herbert Yoskowitz at 9:45 a.m. About this, he states that he will discuss, “Life and Death in Plato’s Phaedo and in Parashat Shemini.”

Our Torah Study is always enlightening and inspiring and all are welcome to be a part of this warm and welcoming community. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.

Shabbat Shalom,

Paul

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