Remaining Silent

Yael Eckstein  |  March 22, 2022

Drawing of a man with his hands held up to the sky about to make an offering.

Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said:

“‘Among those who approach me
    I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
    I will be honored.’”

Aaron remained silent. — Leviticus 10:3

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Shemini, which means “eighth,” from Leviticus 9:1–11:47.

On February 6, 2019, my life changed forever with one phone call. I had just returned from a family vacation when I received the news that my abba, my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, had unexpectedly and tragically passed away at age 67. In the blink of an eye, I had lost my father, my mentor, and my role model.

When tragedy strikes it’s quite common for people to have a crisis of faith. We have questions. We look to God and wonder why. I know that when my father passed away so suddenly, I had questions. But in those difficult moments we must not allow our shock and our pain to lead us away from God.

Instead, we must take our doubts to God. It’s okay to have questions; we are human. We don’t know what God knows. We can’t understand His decisions. We can have questions, but we must always remember that at the end of the day, God is God, He loves us, and even in our pain, He knows what is best.

Nowhere in the Bible did God promise us that we would understand everything He does. He never promised us that we would be free of suffering. But He did promise that He would be there with us in our pain.

Remaining Silent

In this week’s Torah portion, the High Priest Aaron is struck by tragedy. God took the lives of his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, after they offered an “unauthorized fire” before God, “So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Moses then said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: “Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.”’ Aaron remained silent” (Leviticus 10:2-3).

Did you catch that? Aaron remained silent. He didn’t cry out against God. He didn’t demand an answer from God. Aaron’s silence after just witnessing the deaths of his two beloved sons at the hand of God is remarkable. Aaron accepted the judgment of God and chose not to question it. He did not offer his opinion of what God had just done. He remained silent.

By remaining silent in the face of tragedy, Aaron, the high priest, set an example of humility and acceptance before the decrees of God for all of us to follow.

Your Turn:

Have you experiences tragedy? Are there people close to you who are suffering? Even as you pray, let God know that you accept His will.

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