Power of Silence by Rabbi Joel Grossman

(2003/5763)

When Aharon heard the news that his two sons died, the Torah states his reaction as, “Vayidom Aharon,”  “Aharon was silent.”  Zelig Pliskin (in Growth Through Torah) asks why Aharon was praised so much for not complaining against Hashem after what happened to his sons, if we find in the Gemara (Brachot 60b) that Rabbi Akiva says, “All that Hashem does is for the best,” and in another Gemara (Taanit 21a), Nachum Ish Gam Zu used to say, “This, too, is for the best.”  The Mishna in Brachot says that, “We are obligated to bless Hashem for the bad just as we are obligated to bless Him for the good.”  All these cases in the Gemara show that saying something is better then not saying anything.  If this is true, then why was Aharon praised for his silence?

Zelig Pliskin answers that when a person says, “All that Hashem does is for the best” about something, which originally bothered him, it illustrates how he uses his intelligence to overcome his originally negative reaction.  An even higher level for a person, though, is to internalize the situation, knowing that all of Hashem’s actions are for the best, and therefore have no need to say anything.  Aharon remained silent since he understood this concept, that all that Hashem does is for the best.  The more you learn to accept the will of Hashem, the greater joy you will experience in your life.

The Shulchan Aruch writes in Hilchot Aveilut, that one is not allowed to speak to a mourner unless the mourner starts the conversation.  Once, many years ago, when the Rav was visiting a mourner, the mourner didn’t know this Halacha and was curious when the Rav sat silently for the entire visit.  When he got up to leave, the mourner said, “Your silence comforted me as I saw you felt my pain.”  The Gemara (Megilla 18a) teaches us that sometimes, if a word is worth a dollar, silence is worth two dollars.  We can learn even more from the silence of someone just as we can learn from their words.

This Shabbat is the fourth of the four special Parshiot, which are read before Purim and Pesach.  We have the privilege of reading Parshat Hachodesh for the Maftir from the second Sefer Torah.  What is the reason for this Mitzva Miderabanan?  The Gemara (Megilla 29b) teaches us that we want to read this Parsha before the month of Nissan arrives.  Parshat Hachodesh teaches us about the Mitzva of Hachodesh Hazeh Lachem, the very first Mitzva which was given to Klal Yisrael. 

The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 11a) says that in Nissan we were redeemed and it will be in Nissan that the future redemption will arrive. Let us hope that we can learn this lesson of “Vayidom Aharon” and therefore be privileged to see peace in the world and for our troops to come home safely.  Let this Nissan be what the Gemara is speaking about when it says that we will be redeemed.  Hopefully, we will be able to bring the Korban Pesach in the Bait Hamikdash and celebrate the upcoming holiday of Pesach properly.

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