Parsha: Shmini (2024)

There are times when we face challenges. We can face challenges that are small and sometimes we encounter challenges that are significant.

What is one meant to do when they come face to face with a tragedy?

What is the correct response?

The Parsha this week describes the moment when Aharons two sons died suddenly, while serving in the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

The Torah describes Ahraons response, a Father who lost two of his children in one day.

Aharons response was silence.

The power to be silent at certain moments in life is an important strength. It expresses the awareness that G d is infinite, and cannot be limited to our human logic, and expectations of what we think should take place.

Speech is an expression of logic and limited human understanding that can be expressed in words.
Song and Melody move us beyond speech and is able to express that which words alone cannot.

Silence is even higher.
It’s an invitation to a deep connection with G-d.

Before a tragic event one must do everything possible to prevent it from happening. Once it has happened, our spiritual “silence” expresses a special closeness to the divine.

However, this silence is only regarding our personal relationship with G d.

Regarding our practical lives, even the worst and most horrific event is a call to action. It may be a call to do all one can to prevent suffering and loss. Or it may be a call to “rebuild” in a more spiritual way.

The Jewish people have confronted many forms of persecution.
How did we respond to this? Not through passive silence, but with, action and joy, through which we try to help every Jew turn towards their Jewish heritage and rebuild Jewish family life and Jewish knowledge, around the world.
Today, we also face challenges in Israel. Here silence is not the solution, rather a strong voice defending Israel’s right to exist.

So, when responding to tragedy there is room for silence like Aharon demonstrated. There is deep value in that. A deep closeness and mature awareness, of G-d’s true existence.

But after that initial silence and deep reflection, there is also a call to action to respond with determination and resolve to make the world a better place.

Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Zalman and Esty