Complete Mourning by Marc Poleyeff

(2006/5766) In the middle of Parshat Chukat, Aharon, the Kohen
Gadol, passes away: “Vayivku Et Aharon Shiloshim Yom Kol
Beit Yisrael,” “And all of Beit Yisrael mourned for Aharon for
thirty days” (Bemidbar 20:29).  In Sefer Devarim, when the
Torah discusses Moshe’s death, the Pasuk (34:8) states only,
“Vayivku Bnei Yisrael Et Moshe Be’Arvot Moav Sheloshim
Yom,” “Bnei Yisrael cried for Moshe in Arvot Moav for thirty
days.”  There is no mention in the Pasuk regarding Moshe’s
death of the entire nation weeping, as is recorded regarding
Aharon’s death.  Rashi explains that this is because Aharon
was a Rodeif Shalom, a pursuer of peace.  He established
peace between a man and his friend and frequently brought
harmony between husband and wife; hence, “The entire
house of Israel” wept because Aharon’s passing was felt more
by the common Jew.  The Yalkut furthers this point, adding
that Moshe’s job was to judge, and he therefore rebuked
many people, which caused his truly pleasant personality to
diminish in many people’s eyes.
The Or HaChayim also tries to resolve this difficulty.  He
quotes the Ibn Ezra who says that the outpouring of grief for
Aharon showed respect for Moshe, his older brother, who
survived to mourn him.  The Chizkuni adds that Moshe wept
first for Aharon, and when the nation saw Moshe cry, they too
were moved to tears.  Since Aharon’s death was sudden, the
Or HaChaim continues, Bnei Yisrael had no time to prepare

for his death.  Moshe’s death, on the other hand, was
forthcoming.  Therefore, Bnei Yisrael were shocked when
Aharon died and cried more than they did for Moshe’s death,
with which they able to cope because they knew about it for
a long time in advance.
Additionally, Aharon’s death caused the Ananei
HaKavod to leave Bnei Yisrael, leaving Bnei Yisrael more
vulnerable to enemy attacks.  Although this also occurred
following Moshe’s death, at that time, Bnei Yisrael were
already looking forward to entering Eretz Yisrael, so their
distress was not as heightened.  Also, after Moshe passed
away, Yehoshua was recognized as his successor.  He did
not fully take the place Moshe, but the mere realization that
someone was taking over the position as leader was
consoling.  However, Aharon’s successor and son, Elazar,
could not replicate Aharon’s warm personality and amicability
towards the people, and Bnei Yisrael were therefore more
upset by his death than by Moshe’s.
-- Adapted from a Dvar Torah in Peninim on the Torah

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