This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota.
Another week, another tragedy. This time, a bomb exploding outside the bus station in Jerusalem.
How do we respond to such continuous suffering? What are we meant to say, how are we to make sense of it all? In this week’s Parsha, we have a tragedy of a different kind, and hopefully some insight into how we should behave ourselves.
The Mishkan (Tabenacle) was finally completed, and the series of inaugural sacrifices were finished, climaxing with Hashem’s Clouds of Glory entering the Holy of Holies. At almost the next moment, Aaron’s two sons enter uninvited into the Sanctuary, and are struck down by heavenly fire.
What a horrible fate for a father – having his two sons killed in one moment. What was his reaction? How did this great man respond to the event?
“Vayidom Aaron” – “And Aaron was silent”.
How do we understand this?
When I first became a father, I remember taking my son for immunizations. It was a hard thing to do. Here I was, subjecting my son to a painful procedure, without being able to explain to him what it was all about, and why I was seemingly torturing him with long metal instruments. I knew it was good for him, but it was still difficult to administer the painful procedure (luckily I didn’t have to actually give the needle – just hold him down). As my sons have gotten older, they have begun to understand that although they may not enjoy needles, never-the-less they are beneficial to their health. It doesn’t always guarantee 100% cooperation, but things are a lot easier than before.
A mature adult can understand that some things may not be pleasant to experience, however sometimes it’s the best thing for us.
That is the Jewish perspective on Hashem’s interactions with us. We don’t always understand why G-d does what He does. Yet we know that we are loved by Him, and anything that happens is for our best. Aaron’s mature response of silence was his way of accepting Hashem’s decree. It didn’t make it less painful, but it took away the meaninglessness of the incident. Hashem has a plan here, even if I don’t necessarily comprehend it yet.
The message in our times is all too relevant. We often don’t understand why Hashem runs the world in the way that He does. Yet we trust Hashem that He is our loving Father, and always has our best interests at heart.
Having said all that, acceptance and trust are only the first (albeit difficult) steps.
After that, we each need to contemplate what is the message for me personally from this event – how am I supposed to grow from it. How should I react – politically, physically, spiritually? First we understand Hashem is in control, then we assess how He wants us to act.
May we share only happy tidings from now on. Good Shabbos.
Eds. Note: Do you agree or disagree with Rabbi Da-vid? How do you react to the terrorists attacks in Israel? And as the song goes (sorta) “What’s G-d got to do with it? Got to do with it…”
(Photo: Jason DeRusha)