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    “Vayehi bayom hashmini, and it was on the
    eighth day.” (Vayikra 9:1)
    The number seven connotes tevah, what is
    natural, as in the days of the week, while eight
    is le’ma’ala min ha’tevah — above and
    unconstrained by nature, entering the realm of
    the spiritual.
    For a week, Moshe was busy consecrating the
    Mishkan. On Yom HaShemini, the eighth day,
    the Mishkan was inaugurated. A day of much
    anticipated joy and celebration. A day of
    attaining great spiritual heights.
    For Aaron, the brother of Moshe and the
    Kohain Gadol, it evolved into a day of tragedy.
    “Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aaron took their
    fire pans, and placed ketores, incense in them
    and offered them before HaShem. An alien
    fire that HaShem had not commanded. And a
    fire came forth from HaShem and consumed
    them. And they died before HaShem.”
    (Vayikra 10:1-2)
    Nadav and Avihu erred by bringing an offering
    on their own. An aish zarah, a foreign fire. An
    offering that had not been requested by
    HaShem. There are numerous explanations as
    to why and how this could have happened.
    One is a teaching of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of

    Berditchev. He explains that their death was
    not a divine punishment, but in their eagerness
    to serve HaShem, they crossed a boundary,
    endeavoring to enter a world in which they
    were unable to exist.
    Nadav and Avihu saw their father prepare for
    the kehunah. Their desire to come closer to
    HaShem was part of their very being. Yet, in
    their fervor to attain greater spiritual heights,
    they did something they were not asked to do.
    We can’t begin to comprehend the agony
    Aaron must have endured, losing two sons at
    the very same moment. What words of
    comfort and consolation could Moshe
    possibly offer to his beloved brother. With
    much compassion, Moshe approached Aaron,
    telling him that Nadav and Avihu perished
    while sanctifying HaShem’s name. He
    conveyed a message from HaShem that
    “B’krovai ekodesh, I will be sanctified by
    those who are closest to Me, v’al pnei kol
    ha’am ekovaid, thus, I will be honored before
    the entire nation.” (Vayikra 10:3)
    Rashi comments that Moshe consoled Aaron
    with these beautiful words: “Aaron achi, my
    brother Aaron, I knew that the Mishkan would
    be sanctified by those beloved by HaShem.
    But I thought it would be either you or me.
    Now I know that they (Nadav and Avihu)

    were greater than either of us.”
    Vayidom Aaron, and Aaron was silent.
    How do we understand Aaron’s
    One of the great Torah commentators,
    the Malbim explains that the word
    vayidom, and he was silent, is not
    commonly used to describe silence. It
    is used when one becomes quiet in the
    midst of speaking. While Aaron was
    expressing his emotions on his tragic
    loss, Moshe spoke, and Aaron said
    nothing further.
    Upon comforting one who is mourning,
    it is customary not to initiate
    conversation, but to allow the mourner
    to take the lead. Aaron began speaking,
    and Moshe responded with words of
    Vayidom Aaron. Aaron stopped
    speaking and accepted Moshe’s words
    of consolation.
    There is yet another understanding of
    the word vayidom. Vayidom has the
    same root as the Hebrew word domeim,
    meaning inanimate objects such as stones,
    rocks and mountains.
    Aaron’s reaction was to be resilient, like a
    rock. After hearing Moshe’s words, he became
    strong as a mountain. Unshakable and
    Vayidom – he was silent. Not a silence of
    anger or bitterness. Nor a silence of despair
    and depression. Aaron’s silence reflected
    his emunah and bitachon. Even though the
    pain was devastating, Aaron’s silence
    expressed his conviction that HaShem was
    with him, at all times and through all
    circumstances. His silence spoke volumes.
    Aaron was ready to be strong and continue
    his holy work as the Kohain Gadol.
    Life comes with its challenges. Times when
    we may feel like asking, why me? The
    Torah teaches us that it is not about the why.
    Though there may not be any answers as to
    why, what is vital is to have faith to carry
    on. That is the essence of a Jew.
    The strength of Aaron continues from
    generation to generation. Despite all pain
    and hardship, Am Yisroel Chai. Our nation
    lives on with determination and fortitude.
    Domeim, solid like a rock.
    It started as a beautiful fall day. My father,
    HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav Osher Anshil
    HaLevi zt”l, went to see a doctor for some
    stomach pain, expecting a routine exam.
    But it was anything but routine. My Abba
    was informed that he was facing a diagnosis
    of cancer.
    Vayidom. My father mustered up his inner
    reserves of strength, and accepted the
    doctor’s words with unwavering trust in
    HaShem. The doctor later shared with our
    family how “the Rabbi brought tears to my
    eyes, when he said that he was sorry that I

    had to relay a difficult diagnosis”.
    Vayidom. The day was not over. Without
    saying a word, or exhibiting any outward sign
    of pain, my father continued on with his
    schedule. He went from the doctor’s office to
    my sister Slovie’s home, to be a loving zeide
    and study Torah with his grandson.
    It was only later in the day that Abba shared
    the news with our family.
    The strength of silence.
    The power of vayidom.
    This past Purim, a photo of Dina Cohen’s
    front door went viral. Dina is the young
    widow of a fallen soldier. A woman of
    amazing spirit, even during times of grief.
    Dina posted a sign on her door, “When
    entering this home, please hold your back
    straight and your head held high. Then, fill
    yourself with strength and happiness… know
    that in this house lives the family of a hero,
    who during his lifetime, and after his death,
    spread light and hope.”
    The strength of Aaron continues.
    This Shabbos, we will recite Birchas
    HaChodesh, welcoming and blessing the
    upcoming month of Nisan. The word Nisan is
    similar to the Hebrew word nisayon, a life
    test, a challenge to overcome. At the same
    time, Nisan also connotes neis, a miracle.
    Yeshuas HaShem K’heref ayin, The salvation
    from HaShem is quick like the blink of an eye.
    While we as a nation after faced with nisyonos,
    many tests, we believe that at any moment, we
    can go from nisayon to neis, from challenges
    to miracles.
    Chazal tell us that b’nisan nigalu, u’bNisan
    assidim l’higael — In the month of Nisan we
    were first redeemed, and in the month of
    Nisan we shall have our final redemption. Let
    us daven that this will be the Nisan in which
    we see the realization of this promise.