Shemini – Letters of Courage

Dear Chevra, BS”D

Aaron HaCohen losses his beloved sons Nadav and Avihu. Accepting his loss as the Divine Will, Aaron remains silent. A feat significant enough that it should be mentioned in the Torah for all generations to learn from.

In the Torah reading of Shvi’i Shel Pesach, the last day of Pesach, we read the verse, “Hashem will fight for you, but you must remain silent.” In Avos (which many have the custom of learning between the weeks of Pesach and Shavuot) we read, Shimon the son of Rabban Gamliel, says: “All my days I have been raised among the Sages, and I found nothing better for the body than silence.” Shortly after arriving in Yeshiva, someone said something hurtful (I have no recollection who said it or what was said). I wanted to speak out and answer back. Taking notice, the Elter Bachur, Meir Gabbai, pulled me aside. Meir spoke about the great virtue of remaining silent. I agreed. But Meir added, “More than not responding in words, silence is not responding in your heart.”

In his book, “Reb Shayele,” Rabbi Yisroel Besser shares these stories: Shortly after accepting the mantle of leadership, Reb Shayele of Kerestir had several opponents. Reb Shayele was visiting Dorog, when a letter written by some of his opponents reached Reb Shmuel Frankel, the Doroger Rav, expressing their apprehensions concerning Reb Shayele. Taking their concerns seriously, the Doroger Rav read the letter aloud at Reb Shayele’s bedside, awakening the young Rav. When the Doroger Rav finished reading the letter, Reb Shayele smiled as if he had just heard an amusing tale, and, undisturbed, went back to sleep. The next day, the Doroger Rav expressed his admiration and astonishment that Reb Shayele could remain inwardly quiet upon hearing such criticism. Another story is told of Reb Shayele’s ability to maintain inward quiet: When the great tzaddik Reb Mordeachi Dov of Hornisteipel came to Hungary for the wedding of a grandchild, many people came to see him. There was pushing and shoving. People climbing on each other to get a glimpse of the tzaddik. A man climbed on Reb Shayele’s shoulders to see the Hornisteipler. Another man admonished him saying, “Mister, Don’t you know you’re climbing on the holy Reb Shayele Kerestir.” To which Reb Shayele sincerely objected, “What’s the difference? I’d like to get a look at the tzaddik and so does he!”

The story is told of a man who threw an egg at Elizabeth, Queen of England, while she was engaged in a conversation with several people. There was commotion. Security apprehending the delinquent man, maids rushed to wipe off the egg, those whom the queen was addressing were horrified. But Queen Elizabeth continued on as if nothing was out of the ordinary. She didn’t so much as bother looking at the egg that had been thrown at her. Of course the queen knew what happened, she was well aware of having had an egg thrown on her; but to acknowledge an egg would be beneath the dignity of royalty. Permeated by the recognition of her royalty, the Queen maintained outward and inward silence.

A Jew is royalty. Whether Convert, Newcomer, or Native-born. Torah scholar or unlearned. Regardless of place or station. Whether sitting in an office or in a prison. A Jew is royalty; and silence is one of the jewels on the crown of a Yid. We should take a lesson from the Splitting of the Sea and remember: “Hashem will fight for you, but you must remain silent.” We should take a lesson from Aaron HaCohen who despite the loss of his sons remains silent. We should take a lesson from Shimon ben Rabban Gamliel who tells us he has yet to find anything better for the body than silence. Let us embrace our royalty and the silence that upholds it.

Have a wonderful and inspiring Shabbos,

Sincerely,

Binyamin Klempner

 

 

About the Author
At the age of 17 Binyamin Klempner left Teaneck, NJ to pursue a simple existence on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Northern Montana. While residing on the Blackfeet Reservation he discovered the beauty of his Jewish Heritage and traveled to Boston to learn about Jewish life from the Bostoner Rebber, Reb Levi Yitzchok Horowitz, zy"a. From Boston he traveled to Zichron Yaakov where he studied in Yeshiva for a number of years. From there he married and lived with his wife in Milwaukee, WI while studying under HaRav Michel Twerski, shlita. During this time Binyamin also earned a Masters Degree in Social Work. After working as a social worker for several years he moved with my wife and kids to Tiveria, Israel where he works as an organic farmer and homesteader.
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