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    Should Aaron have been silent? – Sh’mini

    18th century Dutch oak statue of Aaron, the High Priest

    A tragedy befell Aaron. His two sons, even though they had sinned, had been struck dead with fire from On High. Aaron’s response? “And Aaron was silent” (Lev. 10:3).

    Everyone praises him for his forbearance. He could have shouted at the Almighty – but he kept his dignity, resigned to God’s will. Indeed heroic!

    But there could be a case for saying that he was a coward, a case for insisting that a brave man stands up to God and refuses to accept quietly all that befalls him.

    Every age in Jewish history has seen human beings confronting God and questioning the way He runs His universe. The confrontations did not necessarily change things but it showed God that humans were robust personalities who believed that the Divine Source of all justice should act justly.

    One has the feeling that whatever God said or did at such times, He was secretly proud of His creatures. He had taught them well, and if they turned on Him it showed they had learned their lessons and taken them to heart.

    Should Aaron have spoken out? Should he have shouted?

    It’s a matter of opinion, and some people’s opinion is that “yes” is the answer to the question. The Torah itself relates times when both Abraham and Moses shouted at God.

    In this particular case it implies that silence was the right response.

    Whichever point of view we espouse, we have to remember Hillel’s saying in Pir’kei Avot (2:4), “Judge not your neighbour unless you are in his position”.

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