Parshat Shmini

Silence Is Golden-פרשת שמיני

The 8th day has finally arrived, and along with it, the inauguration of the משכן. Festivity in the air, excitement spinning around, the anticipated moment arrives.

At center stage on this momentous day stands כהן גדול, אהרון. But then, in the midst of the festivities, disaster strikes. נדב ואביהוא, sons of אהרון, are killed for bringing an אש זרה. All of בני ישראל look to אהרון, still the central figure, expectantly awaiting his reaction.
וידם אהרון.

It is with silence that אהרון chooses to react to this terrible news. This silence, this passive move, this lack of action, is ironically so powerful, so indicative, so meaningful.

There are 3 other examples of silence in תנ�ך I’d like to highlight. The first is with רחל when she decided not to tell לבן the fact that she had signs with יעקב but instead gave them over to לאה . The second is with שאול when he neglected to tell his father about his conversation with שמואל. The third is with אסתר when she refused to tell אחשורוש her birthplace because מרדכי had told her not to. All three were silent in the right place.

This trend of silence is multifaceted. All cases indicate צניעות, self-control, and strength of character. צניעות can be defined by knowing oneself and protecting his relationship with himself and with individual others such that the general public does not need to be privy to personal details. In society today, social media networks such as Facebook make it extremely difficult to retain this level of צניעות.
Self-control is expressed by the ability to hold back from revealing unnecessary details and bursts of emotion to others. As it says in פרקי אבות ,1איזהו גיבור הכובש את יצרו. If people could exercise such self-control relating to לשון הרע , they will then gain respect for others. A lack of such respect led to רבי עקיבא’s students dying. ולא שמירה חזקה מהשתיקה2.

Lastly strength of character is identified. 3סייג לחכמה שתיקה. Someone with a true sense of self-worth will find it unnecessary to project every whim and emotion onto others and will find it sufficient to remain quiet. It says in פרקי אבות , שמעון בנו אומר כל ימי גדלתי בין חכמים 4ולא מצאתי לגוף טוב משתיקה.

Of course, there is a time and place for everything. As it says in קהלת, 5עת לחשות ועת לדבר. It is the שתיקה aspect though that is most difficult and that should be learned. לעולם ירבה אדם בשתיקה6.
וידם אהרון.

It must have taken an unimaginable amount of צניעות, self-control and strength of character to remain silent in such a traumatic scenario. May we all reach a fraction of אהרון ‘s level and use these traits to bring us closer to ourselves, to Torah and G-d as we make our way toward שבועות.

Student Studying in MMY
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1.פרקי אבות ד משנה א
2.חק לישראל – בראשית-וישלח יום שישי תורה-מוסר
3.משנה – אבות – רע”ב-פרק ג – משנה יג
4.פרקי אבות א משנה י”ז
5.קהלת ג
6.-קיצור שולחן ערוך-סימן כט – מידות שירגיל בהם האדם את עצמו