In response to the death of his two sons, when Moses comforts Aaron, the Torah describes Aaron’s acknowledgement of what happened: וידם אהרן, “And Aaron was silent.”
Aaron was silent.
With Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah – Day of (Remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Bravery this week, and Yom HaZikaron – Israeli Memorial Day next week, we are moved to silence in the face of tragedy.
Human beings are described as “Medaber”: “Speaking.” There are four states of being: Domem, Nefesh, Chai, Medaber – Silent, Living, Animated, Speaking (examples are: a rock, a tree, a deer, a human being). The trait that separates us from all other elements of existence is our ability to speak. The ability to communicate is a divine tool given to express ourselves. We connect and elevate through speech. But “speech” also limits and defines our thoughts and emotions. Typically, the capability of speech to package our thoughts and feelings comprehensively, in a way that is readily comprehended and absorbed by the recipient, is a necessity and gift. Our essence and wisdom need to be constricted and contained to be shared. Through speech, we can share part of what we think and feel.
Some tragedies, sacrifices, and experiences touch us at our core, and can’t be processed, understood, contained, or communicated. The essence of our wisdom and soul can never be shared through speech.
In recognition, in awe, in humility, we are speechless. Any attempt to speak falls short.– Rabbi Shmulik Yeshayahu
We are sometimes moved to silence to transcend and attempt to absorb what we know is true. The enormity of the experience, knowledge, and feeling is so overwhelming that we stand silent beyond all ability to completely grasp it in a meaningful way.
An 18-year-old would put on a uniform to protect their people, willing to sacrifice their dreams. They choose the collective Jewish soul over their soul, their families making the ultimate sacrifice for the survival of the Jewish people – Am Yisrael Chai…there are no words for this sacrifice.
What can one truly say in the face of the tragedy of the Shoah when one hears of the bravery, the sacrifice, the devastation?
In recognition, in awe, in humility, we are speechless. Any attempt to speak falls short.
There are no words…only silence.