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    Parsahas Chukas. The end of an era. Bnei
    Yisroel’s forty year journey through the
    desert is coming to a close. Forty years of
    travels, encampments, and life lessons.
    Forty years of dedicated guidance and
    leadership by Moshe and Aaron.
    In this week’s parsha, Bnei Yisroel lose
    their beloved Kohein Gadol, Aaron.
    “Va’yivku ess Aaron shloshim yom, kol
    Bais Yisroel, The entire House of Israel
    wept for Aaron thirty days.” (Bamidbar
    In Sefer Devarim, the Torah tells us that
    upon Moshe’s death, “Va’yivku Bnei
    Yisroel ess Moshe shloshim yom, The
    children of Israel wept for Moshe for thirty
    days.” (Devarim 34:8)
    We know every word, every little nuance in
    the Torah, is there for a reason. Why does it
    say “kol Bais Yisroel, the entire House of
    Israel” in connection with the passing of
    Aaron, but in recording Moshe’s death, the
    Chumash says only “Bnei Yisroel, the
    House of Israel”, without the “kol—all”?
    The Midrash teaches that Moshe was
    “Rabbeinu” – our teacher, our leader, our

    guide, and our mentor. A position that at
    times required Moshe to judge and rebuke
    members of Am Yisroel… not always to
    everyone’s liking. There were some who
    may not have appreciated the mussar, the
    admonition or reprimanding that came with
    the job. Some, may not have grieved as they
    should have upon Moshe’s passing. Thus,
    the word “kol” is missing.
    In Pirkei Avos, Hillel teaches “Hevei
    mi’talmidav shel Aaron, oheiv shalom,
    v’rodef sholom, oheiv ess habriyos
    u’meh’karvan laTorah, Be among the
    students of Aaron, loving peace and
    pursuing peace, loving people and bringing
    them closer to HaShem.” (Pirkei Avos 1:12)
    The Mishna is exhorting us to learn from
    Aaron, the Kohein Gadol, who looked at
    every person b’ahavah, with love and
    understanding. To be a student, to be
    constantly working on oneself. Growing,
    developing and improving our ability to
    create an atmosphere of peace and
    Love peace, pursue peace. The Mishna in
    Avos uses the word rodef for pursuing
    peace. Rodef literally means to run after. It
    is not enough to be a lover of peace, but one
    must bring their thoughts and attention to

    action. To be a rodef,
    to literally live a life of
    bringing peace to
    Aaron was the
    paradigm of a rodef
    shalom. He physically
    ran to create peace
    between people. The
    Midrash tells us that
    when Aaron saw two
    people who were in
    conflict with each
    other, he would make
    it his business to create
    shalom between them.
    He would run to one
    and say, “Your friend
    sent me to tell you that he feels terrible, he
    wants to make up with you.” He would then
    run to the other person with the same
    message. “Your friend is sorry about the
    disagreement. He wants me to tell you that
    he really wants to get together with you.”
    When the two sides would meet, they would
    run to each other, embrace each other, and
    once again shalom existed between them.
    Under my mother’s guidance, Hineni would
    host singles get-togethers. Always the
    shadchan, the Rebbetzin would mingle
    amongst the crowd, introducing people to
    each other.
    At one such singles Chanukah event, my
    mother noticed a new face, and went over
    to welcome her. “What’s your name?”
    my mother would asked. “Nikki…
    Nicole.” A short, terse response. Not
    satisfied with that answer, my mother
    asked Nikki for her Hebrew name.
    “Nechama, but I have no need for that
    My mother started to tell Nikki what a
    beautiful name Nechama is. That it means
    comfort, and surely, as one having that
    name, she has the power to bring comfort
    to others and to herself.
    Nikki was quick to say that she knows the
    meaning of Nechama. In fact, she grew
    up in a religious home, but is now
    estranged from her parents. She is an
    aspiring actress, living in the city. My
    mother saw the tzelem Elokim, the image
    of G-d, within Nikki, and invited her to
    come to a Torah class at Hineni.
    A week later Nikki was sitting in Hineni
    listening to a Chumash class. One never
    knows, and one should never give up. My
    mother’s intuition proved correct once
    again. Nechama was at a Torah class.
    And she kept coming. Week after week.
    The more she studied, the more sensitive
    she became. Nechama became like a

    butterfly, and by the time Pesach arrived,
    she underwent a complete metamorphosis,
    ready to say goodbye to Nikki, and be
    Nechama once again.
    My mother told Nechama that HaShem
    wants nothing more than to see His children
    come home. He is waiting for them. The
    Rebbetzin asked her where she was
    planning to spend Pesach.
    The tears started to flow. Nechama said it
    wasn’t so simple. Her father knew of the
    lifestyle she lived; he wouldn’t want her
    My mother would not be deterred. She had
    a plan, and immediately jumped into action.
    She called Nechama’s parents. Nechama’s
    father picked up the phone. “Hi, this is
    Rebbetzin Jungreis. I heard you and your
    family have an open home and are happy to
    do hachnossas orchim. Can you please help
    us. Some of our Hineni members are
    looking for places to have seder.”
    “I’ll have to ask my wife. How many
    “One girl, twenty-five years old. Her name
    is Nechama.”
    Dead silence on the other end. Nechama’s
    father was in shock, and then with a shaky
    voice he asked if this was a joke.
    “Your Nechama is attending our Hineni
    Classes. She is a new person. She wants to
    come home.”
    The following week, Nechama’s parents
    made their way to the Hineni building.
    They met Nechama in my mother’s office.
    A reunion laden with tears. A daughter who
    was no longer estranged. A family that was
    whole again just in time for Pesach.
    Oheiv shalom v’rodeph shalom. It’s not
    enough just to think of peace. One must
    take action and pursue peace. To follow in
    the footsteps of Aaron. To see the tzelem
    Elokim in every person. Bringing peace to
    those around us.