In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
Pesach and Shemini : A Telling Silence 5777
WE were also redeemed. In every single generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he had gone out from Egypt. As it is said, “You shall tell your son on that day, saying,
“On account of this that the Lord did for me, taking me out of Egypt.” Sh’mot 13;8
It was not our fathers alone that the Holy One, blessed is He הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא (ha kadosh baruch hu) redeemed from Egypt. Rather, He even redeemed us with them. As it is said, “And he brought us out from there, in order to bring us in and give to us the land that he swore to our fathers. Devarim 6;23
Therefore we are obligated to give thanks, to praise, to acclaim, to glorify, to uplift, to honor, to bless, to elevate, and to applaud the One that did all of these miracles for our fathers and for us: bringing us out from slaver to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity, from gloom to bright light, from subservience to redemption. And let us offer to him a new song- Halleluyah!
Here we are, in the midst of Chag ha Matzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread). At the first week of counting UP toward Shavuot there is yet another, ongoing phase of anticipation. I’d like to share a little inspiration from the “preparation” and Seder experiences. Last lesson we discussed the importance of recognizing the pure truth- that everything that is “given” to us at this season is only a Gift From Heaven. No matter how much preparing we do, how ready we feel… it all has to do with Hashem’s will and plan. “Even if you’re looking at crackers, they’re there right in front of your face- erev Pesach, the eve of Passover, if you’ve tried, if you’ve cleaned inside- there’s no chamets (spiderwebs, walls, curtains, they’re not chamets). Stop killing yourself to do more….there is no chamets. The blessing that we say and the prayer we make after the ‘final search’ before the seder (order) of Hashem is embarked upon says:
“All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.” Avinu (our Father) has made it like the dust of the earth!
Believe in Him, believe in yourself….it is not chamets….
Chamets is dead- it has no existence for you anymore on Pesach.
Do as much as you can do! Remember, die to yourself, but don’t kill yourself.
You aren’t the korban of Pesach. We need to have faith and to do it for Hashem.
Enjoy! With happiness and joy- your happiness can not depend on the sofa cracks, or the meat on the table….even if you’re barefoot, naked running for your life, “Thank You Hashem.”
Only, once you let go of the control, how I want it to be, let go of how I think it should be…
when you let go, God can move.
Hashem says, “When your kingship is over, I’ll come.”
Finish your fake empire, end the illusion.
Hashem says, “At the end of your reign, I will come and I will lead you to the right places.”
who could ask for anything more
motivated I felt You call me long before
I arrived at this eve, I can not believe
it is happening so fast….what a wonder
why, the best is yet to come
sitting down at a banquet for kings, basking in His love
freedom, I taste it…I smell it in the air
and nothing is hidden when I abide in You there.
A journey it is
it always is
when you journey inward, and face your sin
it’s not comfortable or pleasant
but in the end all you feel is refreshment
like a new set of garments
like an adventure you’ve long awaited
I am on the threshold of this night, how I have longed- anticipated.
You’ve shown me the truth, and the irony in it once more….
while I was feverishly sweeping up crumbs in once spot
somewhere else, there was cereal tossed all across the floor…
all my preparations
expectations are naught
if it was the point- EXPERIENCING You, that I forgot.
Now, I beckon You in, and await Your breath
may You wrap Your wings around me and
take until there’s none of me left.
Come close to my heart, I’ve prepared a place for You…
this is the entire purpose
of all the preparations
and experience with You.
“…the best meat, beautiful napkins, good clothes, that’s not going to bring Hashem into your home.
Shalom bayit (Peace in the Home), between husband and wife, that will bring Hashem into your home
Good food won’t bring Him to your table… a pure heart is bringing Hashem to the table,
with tears of joy you bring Him to your table. Not tears of joy that,
“in the end He helped me to fix the table and the house”….No.
In the end I was with Hashem- that’s the happiness, that’s the joy.
The light of righteous people is to be happy- no matter where you are, what you do, what you lack of- happy that you’re under the wings of Hashem. That happiness is what will bring us to faith.” – Rav Dror
The Seder is no ordinary meal. It is a highly orchestrated rite of eating, questioning, telling and singing. “ At this time the whole household takes on the sanctity of a temple. The sacrifice becomes the seder meal. The invited guests cleanse themselves in water. They come not to fill their gullets with wine and their stomachs with food as at other symposia, but to celebrate with song, prayer (and story). The whole people, old and young, ascend to the status of priests to conduct the holy service (the seder). For they all celebrate the great migration, when over 600,000 men and women happily exited from a land of cruelty and animosity toward strangers…” Philo of Alexandria
The very first thing God tells us about Himself at Sinai is this: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt.” God tells us that, before telling us not to steal and not to kill, before telling us to observe the Sabbath day and not to worship other gods. It is as if God thinks we need to be reminded of the great favor done for us in order to be sure we will reciprocate by observing God’s commandments. “I brought you out of the house of bondage” is the first of the Ten Commandments. It commands us to know for all time that our God is a God of freedom, that the commandments God offers us are gifts, not burdens, that the acceptance of those commandments is not a form of self-denial but a form of liberation. God does not want our gratitude; God wants us to understand that nothing matters to God more than our freedom, and then to teach us that freedom depends on the law. Tonight, at the great festival of our freedom, we are, all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, colleagues in the celebration of freedom. At the same time, we are partners in a seder- which means order. We might have chosen to celebrate and remember our liberation with noisy carnivals; others have. But we have been taught something different. – Leonard Fein, social activist.
An essential characteristic of free people is that they notice the world around them, make distinctions and search for meaningful patterns. They want understanding, not inscrutability. For a slave mentality, nothing is “different”- all tasks are a part of the same meaningless arbitrariness. There is no point in asking if no one answers, no place for questions in a world where the master’s arbitrary orders are the ultimate justification for the way things are. In beginning the seder with genuine (not rote) questions, the Rabbi’s show that we not only tell the story of freedom, but we act like free people. from “A Different Night” by Noam Zion and David Dishon
When a day passes, it is no longer there. What remains of it? Nothing more than a story. If stories weren’t told or books weren’t written, humans would live like beasts, only for the day.” Reg Zebulun said, “Today we live, but by tomorrow today will be a story. The whole world, all human life, is one long story.” Children are as puzzled by the passing of time as grownups. What happens to a day once it is gone? Where are all our yesterdays with their joys and sorrows? Literature helps us remember the past with its many moods. To the storyteller yesterday is still here as are the years and the decades gone by. In stories time does not vanish. Neither do people and animals. For the writer and his readers, all creatures go on living forever. What happened long ago is still present. – I.B. Singer, Nobel Prize laureate
So here we are, studying, dwelling in, attending to, Hearing (shama) and safeguarding (shamar) that which many have called antiquated, irrelevant, ‘old’. And as we retell these accounts we become the testifiers to their applicability and excellence, as we relate the witness of the King and His constructs we make that which, in some circles, was facing ‘extinction’, vibrant, active, alive! What an honor to be a part of this. What a favor our time together is, truly a Gift from Hashem.
- He said to them, “My soul is bitterly troubled to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26;38
- For it is to a man’s credit if he is satisfied with bitter herbs, and afflicted baselessly, for the sake of knowledge of God. I Peter 2;19
- Peter remembered the statement of Yeshua that he had spoke to him, saying, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Matthew 26;75
- I will pour upon the house of David and upon those who dwell in Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplications, and they will look to me, at the on that they pierced, and mourn over him, as one mourns over an only son, and grieving bitterly over him, as one grieves bitterly over the firstborn. Zechariah 12;10
These striking passages relating to the Marror- Bitter herbs at the Pesach Seder, were the most poignant for me personally this year. This bechor, firstborn, who is wept over. I hear Ya’acov, weeping over the loss of his son Yosef- whom he prepared as a firstborn, inconsolably weeping. I hear the Hebrews in Egypt whose cry over the babes, choking on the Nile’s waters, arose to the heavens. I hear too the Egyptians whose reliance on the inanimate ended in disclosure at midnight, cold unmoving flesh in every dwelling. Zechariah’s description of weeping over the firstborn refers to Yeshua, who, many years ago during the Passover observance earlier this week chose to strike his blood upon the wood of the ‘tree’ upon which he hung. Someday, we will all truly understand the ‘value’ of this ‘korban’. We will all tremble under the power of how much it meant to Yeshua that all beings be enabled to draw near, and be close to Hashem. Someday all peoples will mourn, not just those who are currently blinded, and as every knee bows, let every heart turn around and return to him. Revelation 1; 4… Grace and peace to you from Him who is and was and is to come, and from the sevenfold Spirit before His throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood, 6 who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and power forever and ever! Amen. 7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him—even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.
Even after someone has fallen into a certain sin, the sin has taken over. Even when you are very conscious of that which you have fallen into. You keep on going. You keep on going with simchah – as if you didn’t fall. Baal ShemTov
Rabbi Schneerson taught : Depression, while not a crime, sinks a person deep into an abyss. It originates within our own self- destructive elements and once depression takes hold, a person can sink further. Depression can cause a person to stop doing mitzvot. In an attempt to find relief from the depression, a person might sin, simply because they don’t care enough to avoid doing transgression. Rabbi Nossson once remarked that the evil inclination cares less about the sin than about the depression that follows it. By means of depression, it can further trap the person and gain much more than from the first sin. If we make the mistake of committing a transgression, we should be remorseful but not allow ourselves to become depressed. It is vital to fight depression as one would fight their greatest enemy, run from it as they would run from death itself. When a person becomes sick or ill, their legs feel heavy. When you feel depressed or sick you can feel this heaviness. If you are sick or depressed Rebbe Nachman recommends that you dance, “Through dancing and body motions, joy is aroused.” There doesn’t have to be anyone around and you don’t know how to do any specific dance. Jump around and clap your hands. Dancing is a universal happiness.
In next week’s Parasha (שְּׁמִינִי Shemini-Eighth) we learn about a father who loses, on what should be the greatest day of all of their lives, his two sons. This is one of the only narrative sections of sefer Vayikra. Aaron HaKohen responds to this loss with silence. Let us investigate in part, what happened and again look into the greatness of Aaron. There is a time for crying out to shake the heavens! There is a time for vocalizing our pain, a time to attend to the needs of others, there is a time to speak out against outrageous tragedy. Language, speech, signifies comprehensibility. There is a time when silence is the only answer.
In the first month of the second year, on the first of the month, the Tabernacle was set up. Moses set up the Tabernacle… just as the Lord had commanded Moses… When Moses had finished the work, the cloud covered the mishkan, and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter the mishkan, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle… For over the Tabernacle a cloud of the Lord rested by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all the house of Israel throughout their journeys. (Ex. 40:17–38)
Vayikra 9;22 And Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them. He then descended from preparing the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meeting. Then they came out and blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 10; 1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
#2219 (v) zarah זָרָה – to winnow, to be scattered, to examine thoroughly, to be spread out.
Malachi 2; 3 Behold, I am going to rebuke your offspring, and I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts; and you will be taken away with it. 4 Then you will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that My covenant may continue with Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. 5 “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him as an object of reverence; so he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. 6 True instruction (Torah) was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity. 7 For the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction (Torah) from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction (Torah); you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the Lord of hosts. 9 “So I also have made you despised and abased before all the people, just as you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in the instruction (Torah).10 “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?
#2232 (v) zara זָרַע – to scatter seed, to sow, to conceive seed, to be made fruitful.
#2233 (masc.n) zera זֶרַע- seed time, harvest a field of grain, produce of the field, offspring, descendants, family, a planting.
#2114 (v) zuwr זוּר – to turn aside, depart, to turn from the way, to be a stranger, to loathe, to become strange, estranged, ( to commit adultery).
The Hebrew terms above are related to what the sages call “avodah zarah”. Avodah referring to a divine service, but when used in this way…it means idol worship, idolatry, literally ‘strange service.’ The relevant shoreshim for these terms can refer to seed, scattering seed…where we sow our devotion. To Whom or what are we faithful, are we filled with fidelity to Hashem Echad alone or are we worshipping acher (another- thing, person, schedule, possession, system). Are we pure or are we adulterous, scattering our ‘seed’ of worship to vanity and the idle. The fire that Nadav and Avihu was not strange because of its color or odor. It could have been because of where it was obtained, how it was brought, where it was brought, but in the end….we know that it was outside of the Commandments of Hashem and this is what made it Strange before Him. May we understand that what may have become familiar to us, despite the intensity of the good intention behind it, may be considered as avodah zarah to Hashem. We can only in earnest attempt to discern the differences, we can only acknowledge the boundaries, we can only learn what He finds favor in by seeking, listening with attentiveness and adhering to His instruction. His Torah.
B’reshit 2:16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
The Hebrew word translated as (Nadav and Avihu were) ‘consumed’ by the fire which came forth from the presence of Hashem which had ‘filled’ the Mishkan just verses ago, is the same as that which is first found repeated in God’s positive and prohibitory commandments in B’reshit. Once again we know that there were boundaries being breached here. There is an order being adulterated, once again mankind- with all the right intentions at heart (to come even closer to Hashem, to give Hashem and ‘extra’ gift on this special day, to be like Hashem, to know what Hashem knows) decided that “I know best.” Man followed the ‘desire’ of his heart and throws out the constructs of Hashem. Disregarding the boundaries placed around that which would cause confusion, i.e..good AND evil…. (in Nadav and Avihu’s case, as we saw from Malachi, it was the people whom would recieve a ‘mixed’ message- one can do it his or her own way as long as the thought counts, as long as the intention was good.) Once again we note that timing can very well be EVERYTHING. All eyes were on the central figures today, the Kohanim. For seven days Nadav and Avihu with their father and brethren had been rehearsing for this event. How could they have decided to stray from the ‘program’? And why did they choose this moment to do so?
Vayikra 10; 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.’” So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
Eicha 3; 22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. 26 It is good that he waits silently דּוּמָם for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and be silent דָּמָם since He has laid it on him. 29 Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope. 30 Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach. 31 For the Lord will not reject forever, 32 For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. 33 For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men. 34 To crush under His feet all the prisoners of the land, 35 to deprive a man of justice in the presence of the Most High, 36 To defraud a man in his lawsuit— of these things the Lord does not approve. 37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?
There are only two places the Hebrew term for silent seen in Eicha 3;28 is found in the Torah. Aaron’s silence. # 1826 (v) damam דָּמָם – to be astonished, confounded, to cease, leave off, to compose, to stand off. Also- to cut off, perish, to be laid waste. (I can not help but notice that damam sounds and is spelled much like the Hebrew word for Blood– דָּם Dam. Something usually evident when there is death-silence.) & Sh’mot 15:16 “Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; until Your people pass over, O LORD, until the people pass over whom You have purchased. 17 “You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. 18 “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”
Vayikra 10:4 Moses called also to Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Come forward, carry your relatives away from the front of the sanctuary to the outside of the camp.” So they came forward and carried them still in their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, so that you will not die and that He will not become wrathful against all the congregation. But your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, shall bewail the burning which the LORD has brought about. 7 “You shall not even go out from the doorway of the tent of meeting, or you will die; for the LORD’S anointing oil is upon you.” So they did according to the word of Moses.
Let us recall previous lessons where we discussed the concept of ‘timing’ and going through the ‘proper chain of command’ in situations of turmoil or challenge. Nadav and Avihu, did not take their desire to bring this additional offering up with Moshe or Aaron. They took their own fire pans, their own fire, their own incense. ALL the eyes were on this place at this time, (like Moshe who struck the rock when he was commanded to speak to it…) and in that fatal moment a decision was made that would change everything. Their bodies were intact and even their tunics were unscathed. It was the fire of Hashem, lifney Hashem…before Hashem, which ‘took their souls’. Nadav and Avihu weren’t evil wicked men, but their lapses in judgment cannot be excused. Aaron, the father of special children who died in an ‘untimely’ way wasn’t necessarily caressed or supported he was commanded- to do the impossible. To go on, with the Temple service, as rehearsed and not participate in any of the typical mourning rituals. But from whom did this commandment come? It came from Moshe, and indeed, he had the people’s (and Aaron and his remaining sons) well being in mind…but look at what happens next. Aaron is silent, Aaron is still, Aaron is obedient to his brother and trusts his judgment, Aaron…out this huge loss, merits DIRECT communication from Hashem. (The text could be hinting at the use of wine by the brothers when they entered the Tent, it seems to suggest that in order to be that “Priest who safeguard’s Torah, knowledge,” and in order to have a clear mind and heart to distinguish – and make good decisions, one should consider not mixing indulgence in wine or strong drink with worship.)
Vayikra 10;8 The LORD then spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—10 and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.”
From this בִּקְרֹבַ֣י- karav, coming close of Nadav and Avihu, with the ketoret-incense… the only ‘sense’ of man not used in the committing of the sin in Gan Edan (the sense of smell), God would later speak to Moshe and grant the community the observance and atonement at Yom Kippur.
- Vayikra16;1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the Lord and died. 2 The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. 3 Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
After the death of Nadav and Avihu, Moshe comforts Aaron, reminding him that God had said He would be ‘sanctified’, made Holy by those who were closest to Him. It is taught that Moshe knew someone was going to be taken to the ultimate closeness with Hashem, and these sons of Aaron were at the ‘highest level’. On the other hand, Nadav and Avihu press on, practicing no self restraint. Boldly, they bring an offering that God did not call for. Their behavior is ecstatic, essentially human, seeming to overflow and leave behind the boundaries that divide man and God. God’s responds in kind, and they are taken beyond the bounds of humanity. They become part and parcel of the consecrating fire. When Aaron understands this, he is silent; he practices self-limitation. His gesture is the opposite of his children’s behavior. Aaron behaves like Avraham. He is silent – as silent as Avraham was on the way to the Akeidah.
Sh’mot 29; 42 It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 I will meet there with the sons of Israel, and it shall be consecrated by My glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; I will also consecrate Aaron and his sons to minister as priests to Me. 45 I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God. 46 They shall know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God.
B’reshit 22; 2-3 And he said, ‘Take your son, your only son Yitzchak, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you. And Avraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Yitzchak his son, and broke the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him….
This is the aspect of silence; one should be silent and trust only in God, He will fight for us. That is the meaning of the verse, “God shall fight for you, and you shall be silent.” (Sh’mot 14:14) By virtue of silence you will rise in your thought, for spurious heretical thoughts will be eradicated; that is the meaning of the charge “be silent – thus arise in thought”(Menachot 29b) by virtue of silence, thoughts are elevated. Silence frees us from extraneous, hindering thoughts and allows our minds to be elevated; therefore, by virtue of silence, one can understand God. Silence is greater than speech, for silence leads to understanding.- Ari Kahn
Ezekiel 24; 15 And the word of the LORD came to me saying, 16“Son of man, behold, I am about to take from you the desire of your eyes with a blow; but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. 17“Groan silently (דֹּ֗ם damam); make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban and put your shoes on your feet, and do not cover your mustache and do not eat the bread of men.” 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. And in the morning I did as I was commanded….24‘Thus Ezekiel will be a sign to you; according to all that he has done you will do; when it comes, then you will know that I am the Lord GOD.’ 27…Thus you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.’”
Aaron witnesses the horrific death of his sons; instead of rejecting God or harboring destructive ill will toward God, Aaron accepts God’s decree. Aaron also receives the words of his brother and allows himself to be comforted by them. Some see acceptance as outward, others inward; some see silence, others a silent prayer. Aaron receives a revelation and even his silence in this place is a praise to God, his emunah (faith) conviction is able to withstand any assault, Aaron understands that the word of God is contained in silence, in solitude. Aaron also now understood what his brother Moshe felt, ‘alone’, but receiving the word of God. Remember what Aaron’s original appointment was at the sney?
Sh’mot 4;10 Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12“Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” 14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15“You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16“Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.
What Aaron expresses through his silence is the utmost reverence and bitachon (trust) in Hashem. He knows that ‘timing is everything’ and at this point he sets an example for the people which cannot be diminished by the sorrow of the event. We should learn to differentiate, when is the right time to become ‘story tellers’- to elevate ourselves above the level of the animal inside and give our testimony about Hashem, His nature, His wonder, His grace….to our children and everyone who will see us, and when is the right time to revere God in silence. Accepting our lot with humility, and the deepest of love for Hashem. Showing Him that we understand the lengths to which He was willing to go to ‘save’ us from the despair with leads to sin and death. Let us become willing to yet honor and worship Him despite our pain and loss, knowing everything comes from His hand, from His mouth. Let us remember to tell the truth about Hashem among the nations. That His mercy far outweigh’s His anger. That He is Holy and there is a method of approaching & rendering unto Him due reverence. Let us together learn to accept of the bitter and find joy and sweetness within it. I pray that these days before we reach the mountain to actualize Hashem’s promise to make us into a nation of Priests be a period of introspection and tikun, and also realization and verbalization of the many miracles, wonders and favors Hashem showers upon us from the rising of the sun to its setting. Make these days count. Because timing is everything!
Shabbat Shalom! Chag ha matzot sameach!
Resources: Much of this lesson comes from Rabbi Ari Kahn on Sh’mini – arikahn.blogspot.co.il. Rav Dror on Pesach – https://emunah.com/, numerous Haggadot, etc. See Homepage and My Resources entry for a complete and updated list of sources.