Have Questions or Comments?
Leave us some feedback and we'll reply back!

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Phone Number)

    In Reference to

    Your Message


    The Haftara for
    Parashat Shemini,
    taken from the
    Book of Shemuel II
    (chapter 6), tells of the tragic events
    that took place during what was
    to have been the joyous occasion
    of the transportation of the Aron
    (ark) to Dovid Hamelech’s city near
    Yerushalayim. The Aron had been
    captured by the Pelishtim many years
    earlier, and now it was finally being
    returned to the capital city. During the
    festive procession, the Aron appeared
    as though it would fall, and so one
    of the two brothers charged with
    transporting the sacred article – Uza
    – quickly put his hand on the Aron
    to support it. G-d immediately killed
    Uza for disrespecting the Aron.
    This story is read as the Haftara for
    Parashat Shemini, which tells the
    similar story of the death of two
    brothers – Aharon’s two oldest sons,
    Nadab and Abihu. They, like Uza,
    were killed on what had been a joyous,
    festive occasion – the inauguration of

    the Mishkan.
    The Talmud explains that Uza was
    killed because he should have known
    that the Aron did not need his support.
    After all, “Aron Noseh Et Nosav” –
    the Aron actually transported those
    who carried it. When people appeared
    to carry the Aron, in truth, the Aron
    was carrying them. Thus, the Aron
    certainly did not need anybody to
    keep it from falling. This mistake was
    regarded as a grievous sin, and thus
    Uza was killed.
    The Malbim (Rav Meir Leibush
    Weiser, 1809-1879) adds that Uza
    forgot the special Kedusha of the
    Aron, and displayed a lack of
    reverence for Hashem. This was
    an especially severe infraction, the
    Malbim explains, because Uza “forgot
    the fear of the King when he was still
    standing in front of him.” Uza was
    standing in G-d’s presence, and the
    failure to show awe and reverence
    to G-d while standing before Him
    constitutes a grave sin. The Malbim

    writes that such a sin
    is “Gadol Mi’neso” –
    “too great to bear.”
    It is frightening to
    note that we find this
    same expression used
    by Maran (Rav Yosef
    Karo, 1488-1575), in
    the Shulhan Aruch
    (Orah Haim 124:7),
    in reference to the
    sin of conversing
    during the Hazara –
    the Hazan’s repetition
    of the Amida prayer.
    After establishing that one may not
    engage in mundane conversation
    during the Hazara, Maran adds, “If
    one did converse, he is a sinner, and
    his iniquity is too great to bear.” Not
    coincidentally, the Malbim describes
    the severity of Uza’s sin with this
    same terminology. Speaking during
    the prayer service is precisely the
    same offense, forgetting “the fear
    of the King” while “still standing in
    front of him.” As we stand before

    G-d during prayer, we must maintain
    an aura of respect and reverence.
    Engaging in conversation as we stand
    before Hashem is very disrespectful,
    and, in a sense, resembles Uza’s sin,
    failing to conduct oneself with awe
    and respect in G-d’s presence.
    Let us learn from this tragic episode
    the importance of maintaining
    decorum in the synagogue, that we
    must stand before G-d with respect,
    and show reverence for the sanctity
    of the Bet Kenesset.