Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shemini

High Standards

The Torah itself records the reaction of Moshe to the tragic deaths of the sons of Aharon. Moshe tells his grieving brother that the Lord had informed him, “that I will sanctify My name through those who are nearest to Me.” Therefore even though the harsh judgment against Aharon – the dramatic and unexpected deaths of his two elder sons, Nadav and Avihu – dominates the mood of the moment, there is a subtle message of consolation and explanation that Moshe offers to his brother.

And that perhaps is one of the reasons that Aharon remained silent in acceptance of the fate that befell him and his family. Aharon apparently realized that there was a higher purpose also involved in these events – the sanctification of God's name and a warning against tampering with the ritual services of the Tabernacle/Temple/Mishkan – and this realization motivated his silence.

It is very difficult for us ordinary mortals to appreciate the nature of this means of sanctification. We tremble at having to think of God's sanctification and the ennobling of God's name in the world when we are forced always to think of death and human tragedy. We much prefer to think of God's greatness in terms of charity, compassion, comfort and consolation.

Yet, as mortals who possess an eternal soul, we all realize that death and tragedy are all part of life – unavoidable parts of life that we all experience and must deal with. Thus Moshe’s words to his brother regarding death and tragedy are really addressed to all of us as well. That is the reason they appear in the Torah, whose words are directed to all humans for all time.

Those who are closest to God in their physical lifetime are treated specially and uniquely by Heaven for good or for better. This is a partial insight into the overall pattern of challenge and difficulty that is the leitmotif of Jewish history. The Jewish people are special and being special carries with it great burdens and responsibilities. Even small errors of judgment or weakness and deviation of behavior can carry with it grave and lasting consequences.

As such, all Jews should feel that every action and pattern of behavior that becomes part of their lives is scrutinized, judged and brings forth reaction from God and humans. Nothing that happens in God's world is ignored or even forgotten. We are held to high standards. We are tight-rope walkers and there is no real safety net stretched out beneath us.

We all realize that a hurt inflicted upon us by a family member or close friend pains us much more deeply than from a similar hurt suffered by us from a stranger or even an enemy. Those who are closest to us are the ones that can hurt us the most. And that also is part of the message that Moshe told his brother. Since we are so close to God, Heaven is more pained, so to speak, by our shortcomings, insults and deviations from His path of instruction for us.

So our relationship to God is one of particular favor but also one of great challenge and responsibility. Simply by realizing this do we enhance our own holiness and help sanctify God's name.

Shabat shalom


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 






ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Shofar: The Court Summons
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Out & Up
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Elul
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5755

ArtScroll

Uniforms vs. Uniformity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

The Judgment
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Let the King Be Proud
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Two People, One Soul
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

The Value Inherent in Kindness
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5761

Perfect Bliss
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Passion For Progress
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

All Israel!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Repentance and Changing History
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

> Prayer is of the Essence
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5769

Moshe's Final Oration to the Jewish People
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Divine Handouts
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759

The Bond that Ties - Prayer
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information