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Weekly D'rash Sh'mini

Splash of blue colors

We could say that in our Torah portion this week "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" for Aaron. In Leviticus 9, we read about the installation of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood. At the end of chapter 9, we read that Aaron blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came down and consumed the offering. What an affirmation of Aaron and his sons.

Immediately after this great moment, we read of the death of two of Aaron's sons. They did not follow the command of God in offering strange fire before the Lord. Aaron experienced triumph and tragedy. Chapter 10 of Leviticus gives us an indication of how Aaron responded to the death of his sons. We read that after Moses explained the reason for the death of Nadav and Abihu, Aaron kept silent. He was grieving, but he accepted the words of Moses.

Today when a death occurs in the Jewish community, we say “Baruch Dayan HaEmet” (Blessed is the True Judge). We are acknowledging that we are submissive to God and He is the sovereign King. Aaron's silence acknowledges this truth. He accepts the judgment of God. Aaron displays a tremendous commitment to God. He understands his calling and responsibility.

Moses instructs Aaron that he cannot tear his clothes or uncover his head (Lev 10:6). As the High Priest, he cannot mourn in the traditional way. Others will mourn the death of his sons, but he must continue to serve in his capacity as the High Priest. At the end of the chapter, Aaron explains to Moses that given the tragedy that has occurred, he could not eat the prescribed offering. Moses understood this and was satisfied. Therefore we learn that although Aaron was not allowed to mourn in the traditional way, he did grieve the loss of his sons and Moses understood.

Aaron demonstrates faithfulness to God in the midst of tragedy. He does not run away from God, nor does he challenge the judgment of God. He accepts the death of his sons and continues in his role of High priest. At the end of the chapter, we learn that he is allowed to mourn, but never loses his faith or calling. When sadness comes our way, may we remain faithful and never lose our faith or hope in God. In Yeshua, we have a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). We may not understand our circumstances, but we accept whatever happens and continue to have our eyes fixed on Yeshua. We continue to serve Him with the knowledge that He guides and directs us, and has provided us with comfort, peace, and a future.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Howard

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