This parsha contains the passing of two of the great people in our history, Miriam and Aharon, the siblings of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Miriam’s passing brought a break in the supply of water, which the people received in her merit.
One would think that the lack of water would simply cause sadness. Instead it brought out anger and frustration.
With Aharon, the loss was felt on a much deeper level. It was not anger or sadness but true mourning, felt by everyone alike.
The reason for this profound grief was due to the fact that Aharon was an “Ohev Shalom V’rodef shalom”. He loved peace and pursued it. Aharon had a unique ability to reunite couples, friends and others who separated through hate.
What was Aharon’s trick? How did this humble servant of G-d dissipate years of animosity and division? Psychology? Mediation? Voodoo?
It seems that it all boiled down to some little white lies that Aharon would (not so) innocently spread between the 2 sides.
The Midrash in Avot DeRabi Natan describes that when Aharon would see one of the parties in a dispute he would tell that person that he was approached by the other side – the spouse, friend or relative. Aharon would say that the other side was truly sorry and wanted to make amends. He would then approach the “other side” with the same narrative.
When the 2 sides would then meet, each one believed that the other was truly remorseful as witnessed by Aharon HaKohen himself!
These “little white lies” were not so little in that they saved myriads of marriages, friendships and other impaired relationships.
Aharon didn’t need to employ any deep therapy or counselling. He understood that deep down people truly love and care for one another. Their separation and dispute often resulted from unkind words, loshon hara or a simple miscommunication gone awry. Aharon realized that if each side would feel the other side had a change of heart, reconciliation would be much easier to achieve.
With Aharon’s death, the feeling was that there would be no one else able to achieve such feats.
The truth is, however, that we all have the ability, on some level, to replicate that trait of Aharon.
I in no way come to diminish the amazing and holy work of therapists, counsellors and coaches. Many relationships do have deep issues that must be worked through. Experience and professional guidance can be both relationship and life saving.
In many other cases, however, it is kind words, patience and understanding that can prevent arguments and heal emotional wounds.
The loss of Aharon was painful and far reaching. It created a void but also an opportunity.
As the Mishna (Avot 1:12) states:
הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן,
אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם,
אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה
“Be from the students of Aharon. Love peace and pursue peace. Love others and bring them close to the Torah”
We can all emulate Aharon.
By loving others, no matter who they are, we will foster peace and love and be the “Aharons” for our times.