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The Torah tells us that in the messianic era when the land of Israel will expand beyond the borders enjoyed by our ancestors, it will become necessary to designate three more cities of refuge to provide sanction for inadvertent killers. When a Jew killed another inadvertently, the Torah allows the …

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Home » Shmini, Tragedy

Shmini: on Grieving and Joy

Submitted by on April 2, 2006 – 9:02 pmNo Comment | 865 views

An Ecstatic but Trying Moment

This Parsha describes a moment of glory for the children of Israel. They had been forgiven for their sin (the golden calf) and as a consolation prize G-d commanded them to build a tabernacle, a dwelling place for the Divine.
After months of toil the groundbreaking moment arrived, G-d would descend and grace the Jewish people with His presence. What a celebration, what euphoria, from the brink of punishment to glory, acceptance and triumph!
But, at that very moment disaster struck! Nadav anad Avihu, two young leaders, two shining stars, the eldest children of Aaron the high Priest, fell to the ground in sudden death! What a change of momentum, what an ordeal. A tragic loss for the father Aaron, an awesome test for the uncle Moses, a trying moment for the Jewish people.
Yet, G-d commanded them to delay the mourning, to halt their grief and proceed with the ceremony. G-d would not allow the passing of these righteous men to halt the joy of this historical moment, to mar the glory of the Jewish people.

What They Would Have Wanted

Where would a grieving uncle find the strength? Where would a grieving father find the stamina? The answer may indeed lie in the certainty of the parents, that Nadav and Avihu would have desired precisely this.
Losing a loved one is excruciatingly difficult. Yet, the ultimate challenge lies in finding the power to persevere, in searching for the strength to proceed. Let us take note that this is precisely what our loved ones would have wanted us to do.
Let us pray that the blessings we receive from G-d be immediate, apparent and revealed. Let us pray that G-d never again obscure the full measure of his compassion. May He never again test our faith.
This essay was written shortly after a tragic loss in the London, Ontario, Community
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