We, Am Yisrael, lost four sibling pairs in two months – three to Arab terror, one this week to drowning.
And we lose one more pair, the young Priests Nadav and Avihu, this Shabbat in Parshat Shemini – “and a fire went out from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem.” (Vayikra 10:2)
We are losing brothers and sisters, just when we’ve almost forgotten that we are brothers and sisters.
God’s un-subtle presence in all the matters of our spirit, our pain, and our joy, reverberate in my brain as I try to write. The Jewish media is full this week of some of the most poignant pieces I have ever read.
In nature, we feel His presence so clearly – cold and storms and thunder in mid-April – reminding us that nothing can be normal about this usually sunny holiday of Spring.
As we remembered the Splitting of the Reeds Sea on the Seventh Day of Pesach, the strongest Eastern Wind – רוח קדים – then, as now, made palm trees of the Dead Sea bow low, and the normally serene blue waters a choppy, angry black.
But the same morning in Efrat, in the Dee family’s synagogue , when the Chazzan was having understandable trouble deciding the mood for the musical Hallel prayer, Rabbi Leo Dee came up to him and whispered in his ear “please make it joyous.” And the Chazzan continued with the uplifting, joyful melodies the congregation is used to singing.
בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי.
“In your bloods you will live,” says to us the prophet Yehezkel. “In your bloods you will live”
And in our Parasha, after Aharon’s unspeakable tragedy, Moshe comforts him through God’s words: “through my nearest ones, I will be sanctified.”
“וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל אַהֲרֹן הוּא אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה לֵאמֹר, בִּקְרֹבַי אֶקָּדֵשׁ וְעַל פְּנֵי כָל הָעָם אֶכָּבֵד, וַיִּדֹּם אַהֲרֹן.
We will never understand these words – a fact expressed by Aharon’s silence. But it seems that the same silence makes space for God to speak to him personally, intimately afterwards, for the first time in the Torah.
As God gives us comfort by being with us in Torah, nature, and history, raising up our nation over and over again – making the sun shine again today so that I can take my grandchildren for a walk in the Land I love – so can we comfort one another, through more expressions of kindness, humility and gratitude. Every moment of every day.
To a shabbat of peace between us and finding meaning in life itself.