Aharon's Silence by Yoni Liss



    In this week's Parsha, we read about a seemingly strange incident, where Nadav and Avihu, two of the sons of Aharon, took an "אש זרה," "a strange fire," and offered incense before Hashem.  Because of this, Hashem sent out a fire that consumed Nadav and Avihu.  Moshe, in Hashem's name, then tells Aharon, "בקרבי אקדש," "through those who are close to me, I will be sanctified."  The Torah then states, "וידם אהרן," "and Aharon was silent" (ויקרא י':א'-ג').  At first, this would seem to be a strange reaction on the part of Aharon.  Wouldn't a reaction of Aveilus, of mourning, be a more likely one for someone who just lost two sons?  Wouldn't we further expect Aharon to question the seemingly meaningless death of Nadav and Avihu?  
    Commenting on the words "וידם אהרן," Rashi (לפסוק ג' שם בד"ה וידם) writes that Aharon received a reward for his silence, namely that at first, only he was told, through a private communication with Hashem, about the Halacha forbidding Kohanim to drink wine while serving Hashem.  This explanation of Rashi does not, however, fully explain to us why Aharon was silent.  If Aharon was truly in a mood of Aveilus over the loss of his two sons, then there must have been something far greater than the expectation of a reward that kept him from displaying that mood of Aveilus.  Apparently, Rashi understands Aharon's silence as an acceptance of Hashem's will.  He therefore says that Aharon was rewarded for his silence, because his silence was the ultimate act of Emunah in Hashem.  Now we understand why Aharon was rewarded for his silence with the particular reward of being spoken to directly by Hashem; because of his complete Emunah in Hashem, he was treated as a confidant of His.  
    How do we know that silence indicates acceptance? Later in the Torah (במדבר כ': י'-י"ג), Aharon, according to many commentators, was punished because he stood by idly as Moshe hit the rock, and did not reprimand him.  His silence thus indicated that he accepted what Moshe was doing.  Similarly, the Gemara commonly uses the phrase "שתיקה כהודאה דמי," meaning that "being silent implies agreement."        But now that we know how Hashem reacted to Aharon's silence, we must still ask why Aharon was silent.  Commenting on the same words "וידם אהרן" (ויקרא שם), the Seforno writes that Aharon was comforted by the fact that his sons died על קידוש השם, in sanctification of Hashem's name, as they were brought closer to Hashem at the time of their death.  Once Aharon was made aware of this, he was able to remain silent, because he now knew that his sons' deaths were not meaningless, because at least they died while sanctifying Hashem.
    From the words of the Seforno, an important lesson can be learned.  The lesson is that no matter what is going on in one's life, one can always find comfort in one's relationship with Hashem.  If nothing more comes out of one's personal suffering, then one should at least grow closer to Hashem by learning to see His hand in everything that happens, whether good or bad. From the words of Rashi, we learn that once we do learn to see the hand of Hashem in everything, then we will be rewarded by being brought closer to Him.

  Shemitta and Belief in Hashem by Moshe Trinz

Ona'at Mamon and Ona'at Devarim Noam J. Davidovics