Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Aaron's Moment of Silence (and Mine)
Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 07:28:17 PM
Number of views: 2569

In Loving Memory of Our Dear Son,

Asher Shmuel Chaim ben Ephraim V'Tziona Z"L.

After Aaron's two sons were struck dead by G-d, the Torah records Aaron's reaction, in Vayikra 10:3, "And Aaron was silent."

The Ramban notes that Aaron maintained his silence only after first breaking into sobs. The Abarbanel disagrees asserting that Aaron did not react to the tragic death of his sons. Aaron's silence was a sign of acceptance, of inner peace and of profound faith in G-d. Aaron's silence reflected his serenity at accepting the Divine decree issued against his sons. How did he gather the fortitude to accept in silence, to acquiesce to such a tragic and difficult situation? From where did Aaron conjure up the inner strength to remain calm and serene in the presence of such a catastrophic tragedy? What makes it more incredible is that Aaron lost his sons on a day that was exceptional, a day marked for glory and joy at his inauguration to the High Priesthood. This only served to exacerbate his pain. Yet, he endured and accepted it in silence. How was he able to do it?
The Skulener Rebbe answered this question by reference to another question about the prayer of Boruch Sheamar, recited in the daily Shacharis prayer. The prayer reads as follows:
"Blessed is He Who spoke and the world came into being; blessed is He Who speaks and does; blessed is He Who decrees and fulfills." The Rebbe was troubled by the word "Gozer U'Mekayeim", "He decrees and fulfills." This phrase does not seem to belong in this prayer. It does not seem to fit in. This prayer praises G-d for all the wonderful, positive things that He does for us. The phrase, "Gozer U'Mekayeim", thus seems out of place. A "Gezeirah", a decree, is an edict that carries with it harsh and negative ramifications. Why then would the fact that G-d decrees and fulfills His decrees be mentioned in the same prayer in which we thank Him for something about which we rejoice?

The Skulener Rebbe noted another meaning of "U'Mekayeim". In addition to meaning to fulfill, it also means "Who sustains" and also "Who causes to endure and to persevere". This interpretation gives the phrase an entirely different perspective. There are times when, for reasons beyond our understanding, that G-d must issue a harsh decree against an individual. This decree can have a devastating effect upon the person. How can a person cope and make it through all the suffering that was assigned to him? The answer is "Boruch Gozer U'Mekayeim". While it is true that G-d makes the harsh Gezeirah (decree), He is also "Mekayeim". He gives succor and strength to the person to persevere. G-d sustains the individual, giving him the fortitude and courage to endure the tragic crisis that has challenged him. The Skulener Rebbe explains that Hashem sustains us and enables us to prevail over our anguish and torment.

The message of Aaron's personal tragic ordeal (and mine) is not to be broken by devastating events that challenge us, because G-d gives one the strength to overcome and endure.

G-d gave Aaron the ability to overcome the terrible ordeal, to triumph over the anguish and pain and to accept the tragic loss with courage and faith in G-d and to go on. In truth, it is only with such Divine assistance that one can "make it".

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