Parahsat Shemini – Channa Loebenstein

Posted on March 20, 2014

I Can't Speak

This weeks Parsha is Parashat Shemini. Aharon’s sons, Nadav & Avihu, die because of their disservice in the Mishkan and Moshe consoles him. In Perek י, Pasuk ג is says “ And Aharon was silent.” What is the significance of this silence?

This is one of the only times in the Torah that silence is valued over speech;
“Speech is what makes us G-d like”
“Speech is what separates us from animals”
…. and so on.
Speech is something that significantly focused on in the Torah.

Aharon is teaching us the importance of remaining silent: it is a virtue that seems understated, but really is is essential to realize that Aharon, one of the holiest people, knows the value of silence.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov says:
“In youth, one learns to talk; in maturity, one learns to be silent. This is man’s problem: that he learns to talk before he learns to be silent.”
Aharon was holy because he acted mature, in silence.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe mentions another moment when silence is a strength: the Talmud says that G-d showed Moshe all the leaders of the futures generations.. When Moshe saw Rabbi Akiva in all his great accomplishments, being tortured by the Romans, Moshe questioned G-d’s reasoning. G-d replied: “Be silent.” The Torah is thus teaching us that a quiet acceptance can be more expressively powerful than questioning G-d. Through the power of silence, the way Aharon manifested it.

Once Again, in the same chapter Moshe was silent. Perek י, Pasuk כ states “ Moshe heard and he approved.” Moshe learned from Aharon that silence can take you a long way.

Avot D’Rabbi Natan quotes Pirkei Avot:
“There are a few things which characterize a wise man: he does not speak before an elder; he does not interrupt his fellow’s words; he does not hasten to answer; his words are always on target’ if he did not hear something, he admits it’ he conceded to the truth.”

Both Aharon and Moshe taught us the importance of this exact lesson: Silence can bring power and honor more than words can. It is an essential value that many people forget and wise people know how to use. Silence is golden.