And Aaron Was Silent: How We Mourn
1 א

(א) וַיִּקְח֣וּ בְנֵֽי־אַ֠הֲרֹן נָדָ֨ב וַאֲבִיה֜וּא אִ֣ישׁ מַחְתָּת֗וֹ וַיִּתְּנ֤וּ בָהֵן֙ אֵ֔שׁ וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ עָלֶ֖יהָ קְטֹ֑רֶת וַיַּקְרִ֜בוּ לִפְנֵ֤י יְהוָה֙ אֵ֣שׁ זָרָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹ֦א צִוָּ֖ה אֹתָֽם׃ (ב) וַתֵּ֥צֵא אֵ֛שׁ מִלִּפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה וַתֹּ֣אכַל אוֹתָ֑ם וַיָּמֻ֖תוּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ (ג) וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֗ן הוּא֩ אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֨ר יְהוָ֤ה ׀ לֵאמֹר֙ בִּקְרֹבַ֣י אֶקָּדֵ֔שׁ וְעַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־הָעָ֖ם אֶכָּבֵ֑ד וַיִּדֹּ֖ם אַהֲרֹֽן׃ (ד) וַיִּקְרָ֣א מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶל־מִֽישָׁאֵל֙ וְאֶ֣ל אֶלְצָפָ֔ן בְּנֵ֥י עֻזִּיאֵ֖ל דֹּ֣ד אַהֲרֹ֑ן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם קִ֠רְב֞וּ שְׂא֤וּ אֶת־אֲחֵיכֶם֙ מֵאֵ֣ת פְּנֵי־הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ אֶל־מִח֖וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃ (ה) וַֽיִּקְרְב֗וּ וַיִּשָּׂאֻם֙ בְּכֻתֳּנֹתָ֔ם אֶל־מִח֖וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֑ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר דִּבֶּ֥ר מֹשֶֽׁה׃ (ו) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֣ה אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֡ן וּלְאֶלְעָזָר֩ וּלְאִֽיתָמָ֨ר ׀ בָּנָ֜יו רָֽאשֵׁיכֶ֥ם אַל־תִּפְרָ֣עוּ ׀ וּבִגְדֵיכֶ֤ם לֹֽא־תִפְרֹ֙מוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א תָמֻ֔תוּ וְעַ֥ל כָּל־הָעֵדָ֖ה יִקְצֹ֑ף וַאֲחֵיכֶם֙ כָּל־בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל יִבְכּוּ֙ אֶת־הַשְּׂרֵפָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֖ר שָׂרַ֥ף יְהוָֽה׃ (ז) וּמִפֶּתַח֩ אֹ֨הֶל מוֹעֵ֜ד לֹ֤א תֵֽצְאוּ֙ פֶּן־תָּמֻ֔תוּ כִּי־שֶׁ֛מֶן מִשְׁחַ֥ת יְהוָ֖ה עֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וַֽיַּעֲשׂ֖וּ כִּדְבַ֥ר מֹשֶֽׁה׃ (פ)

(1) And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. (2) And there came forth fire from before the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. (3) Then Moses said unto Aaron: ‘This is it that the LORD spoke, saying: Through them that are nigh unto Me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace. (4) And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them: ‘Draw near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.’ (5) So they drew near, and carried them in their tunics out of the camp, as Moses had said. (6) And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons: ‘Let not the hair of your heads go loose, neither rend your clothes, that ye die not, and that He be not wroth with all the congregation; but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. (7) And ye shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting, lest ye die; for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.’ And they did according to the word of Moses.
2 ב

(ג) וידם אהרן. קִבֵּל שָׂכָר עַל שְׁתִיקָתוֹ, וּמַה שָּׂכָר קִבֵּל? שֶׁנִּתְיַחֵד עִמּוֹ הַדִּבּוּר — שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרָה לוֹ לְבַדּוֹ פָּרָשַׁת שְׁתוּיֵי יָיִן (ויקרא רבה י"ב):

(3) ‎וידם אהרן AND AARON WAS SILENT — He received a reward for his silence. And what was the reward he received? That the subsequent Divine address was made to him alone and not to Moses also — for to him alone was spoken the section (vv. 9—11) dealing with those who are intoxicated by wine (see v. 8) (Zevachim 115b; Leviticus Rabbah 12).

3 ג

Isaac ben Judah Abravanel (1437–1508)

Vayidom aharon - His heart turned to lifeless stone (domem - mineral), and he did not weep and mourn like a bereaved father, nor did he accept Moses' consolation for his soul had left him and he was speechless.

4 ד

R. Eliezer Lipman Lichtenstein - Shem Olam

Scripture chose "vayidom" rather than "vayishtok", (synonyms of silence). The latter signifies the abstention from speaking, weeping, moaning or any other outward manifestation as "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man" (Ps. 107:27), followed by, "then are they glad because "yishtoku" - they are quiet" (ibid., 30). The verb "domem" however, connotes inner peace and calm...Accordingly Scripture describes the saintly Aaron as "vayidom" and not merely as "vayishtok", thus emphasizing that his heart and soul were at peace within, that rather than questioning the standards of God, he justified the Diving verdict.
a. Point out the difference between the two explanations.

5 ה

Baruch A. Levine

The accepted interpretation of Lev. 10:3b is that Aaron remained silent, or

was stunned, upon learning of the sudden death of his two sons, Nadab and Abihu...

The verbal root d-m-m, “to be still” (here to be

classified as d-m-m I for reference), is morphologically indicated in Biblical He-

brew, so that initially, there is no problem in reading Lev. 10:3b in the accepted way.

Both the comparative and the inner-biblical evidence to be adduced presently

will, however, suggest an alternative rendering: “—and Aaron mourned.” This

rendering identifies in Lev. 10:3b a homonymous Hebrew root, here to be class-

ified as d-m-m II, “to moan, mourn.” Understood in this way, Lev. 10:3b means

that Aaron reacted in the customary manner; he moaned or wailed and was about

to initiate formal mourning and lamentation for his two lost sons.

Once this line of interpretation is considered, the commentator will read the

remainder of Leviticus 10 differently. Immediately after the bodies of the two

dead sons of Aaron had been taken outside the encampment for burial (vv. 4—5),

Moses issued instructions to Aaron and his two remaining sons not to engage in

formal mourning, by bearing their heads and rending their garments, lest they

meet death and arouse God’s wrath against the Israelite community. Rather, the

entire house of Israel was to act in their stead, and mourn (the verb b-k-y, “to

weep”) the untimely death of the two priests (vv. 6—7). Mourning, even over a son

or brother, would have defiled Aaron and his two remaining priestly sons at a time

when their purification was just taking hold. Read in this way, Leviticus 10 actu-

ally achieves a higher degree of symmetry.

6 ו

אמר רב פפא אגרא דבי טמיא שתיקותא

Rab Pappa said: The merit of attending a house of mourning lies in maintaining silence.

7 ז

(יא) וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֞וּ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת ׀ רֵעֵ֣י אִיּ֗וֹב אֵ֣ת כָּל־הָרָעָ֣ה הַזֹּאת֮ הַבָּ֣אָה עָלָיו֒ וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִמְּקֹמ֔וֹ אֱלִיפַ֤ז הַתֵּימָנִי֙ וּבִלְדַּ֣ד הַשּׁוּחִ֔י וְצוֹפַ֖ר הַנַּֽעֲמָתִ֑י וַיִּוָּעֲד֣וּ יַחְדָּ֔ו לָב֥וֹא לָנֽוּד־ל֖וֹ וּֽלְנַחֲמֽוֹ׃ (יב) וַיִּשְׂא֨וּ אֶת־עֵינֵיהֶ֤ם מֵרָחוֹק֙ וְלֹ֣א הִכִּירֻ֔הוּ וַיִּשְׂא֥וּ קוֹלָ֖ם וַיִּבְכּ֑וּ וַֽיִּקְרְעוּ֙ אִ֣ישׁ מְעִל֔וֹ וַיִּזְרְק֥וּ עָפָ֛ר עַל־רָאשֵׁיהֶ֖ם הַשָּׁמָֽיְמָה׃ (יג) וַיֵּשְׁב֤וּ אִתּוֹ֙ לָאָ֔רֶץ שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֖ים וְשִׁבְעַ֣ת לֵיל֑וֹת וְאֵין־דֹּבֵ֤ר אֵלָיו֙ דָּבָ֔ר כִּ֣י רָא֔וּ כִּֽי־גָדַ֥ל הַכְּאֵ֖ב מְאֹֽד׃

(11) Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to bemoan him and to comfort him. (12) And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and threw dust upon their heads toward heaven. (13) So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spoke a word unto him; for they saw that his grief was very great.

8 ח

א"ר יוחנן אין מנחמין רשאין לומר דבר עד שיפתח אבל שנאמר (איוב ג, א) אחרי כן פתח איוב את פיהו

R. Yohanan teaches that “comforters are not permitted to say a word until the mourners open conversation

9 ט

מצוה שאני ת"ר אבל ג' ימים הראשונים אסור במלאכה ואפילו עני המתפרנס מן הצדקה מכאן ואילך עושה בצינעא בתוך ביתו והאשה טווה בפלך בתוך ביתה ת"ר אבל ג' ימים הראשונים אינו הולך לבית האבל מכאן ואילך הולך ואינו יושב במקום המנחמין אלא במקום המתנחמין תנו רבנן אבל ג' ימים הראשונים אסור בשאילת שלום משלשה ועד שבעה משיב ואינו שואל מכאן ואילך שואל ומשיב כדרכו שלשה ימים הראשונים אסור בשאילת שלום והתניא מעשה ומתו בניו של ר"ע נכנסו כל ישראל והספידום הספד גדול בשעת פטירתן עמד ר"ע על ספסל גדול ואמר אחינו בית ישראל שמעו אפי' שני בנים חתנים מנוחם הוא בשביל כבוד שעשיתם ואם בשביל עקיבא באתם הרי כמה עקיבא בשוק אלא כך אמרתם (תהלים לז, לא) תורת אלהיו בלבו וכ"ש ששכרכם כפול לכו לבתיכם לשלום כבוד רבים שאני מג' ועד ז' משיב ואינו שואל מכאן ואילך שואל ומשיב כדרכו ורמינהו המוצא את חבירו אבל בתוך ל' יום מדבר עמו תנחומין ואינו שואל בשלומו לאחר ל' יום שואל בשלומו ואינו מדבר עמו תנחומין מתה אשתו ונשא אשה אחרת אינו רשאי ליכנס לביתו לדבר עמו תנחומין מצאו בשוק אומר לו בשפה רפה ובכובד ראש אמר רב אידי בר אבין הוא שואל בשלום אחרים שאחרים שרויין בשלום אחרים אין שואלין בשלומו שהוא אינו שרוי בשלום והא מדקתני משיב מכלל דשיילינן ליה דלא ידעי אי הכי התם נמי התם מודע להו ולא מהדר להו הכא לא צריך לאודועינהו ורמינהו המוצא את חברו אבל בתוך י"ב חדש מדבר עמו תנחומין ואינו שואל בשלומו לאחר י"ב חדש שואל בשלומו ואינו מדבר עמו תנחומין אבל מדבר עמו מן הצד א"ר מאיר המוצא את חברו אבל לאחר י"ב חדש ומדבר עמו תנחומין למה הוא דומה לאדם שנשברה רגלו וחיתה מצאו רופא ואמר לו כלך אצלי שאני שוברה וארפאנה כדי שתדע שסממנין שלי יפין לא קשיא הא באביו ואמו הא בשאר קרובים התם נמי ידבר עמו תנחומין מן הצד אין ה"נ ומאי אינו מדבר עמו תנחומין כדרכו אבל מדבר עמו מן הצד ת"ר אבל ג' ימים הראשונים בא ממקום קרוב מונה עמהן בא ממקום רחוק מונה לעצמו מכאן ואילך אפי' בא ממקום קרוב מונה לעצמו ר"ש אומר אפי' בא ביום השביעי ממקום קרוב מונה עמהן אמר מר ג' ימים הראשונים בא ממקום קרוב מונה עמהן א"ר חייא בר אבא א"ר יוחנן והוא שיש גדול הבית בבית איבעיא להו

Our Rabbis taught: A mourner is forbidden, during the first three days [to do] work, even a poor man who receives maintenance from charity; thereafter he does [his work] privately, in his house: and a woman [in mourning] plies the spindle in her house. Our Rabbis taught: A mourner should not go during the first three days to a place of mourning;2 thereafter he may go but not take a place among the comforters, but among those who are [to be] comforted. Our Rabbis taught: A mourner is forbidden during the first three days to give greeting [of peace];3 after three and to seven [days], he responds but does not give greeting [of peace]; thereafter he gives greeting [of peace] and responds in his usual manner. [It is stated above] ‘Forbidden during the first three days to give greeting of peace’... [It was stated above ‘After three to seven [days]; he responds but does not give greeting [of peace]; thereafter, he gives greeting [of peace] and responds, in his usual manner’. Some contrasted this statement with the following: ‘One who meets his fellow mourner within thirty days, tenders him [words of] consolation but enquires not about his peace; after the thirty days he enquires about his peace, but tenders him not [words of] consolation.14 If his [friend's] wife had died and he married another [formally],15 he is not allowed to call at his house to tender him [there,16 words of] consolation; if he meets him in the street he expresses [his condolence] to him in a low voice and with downcast looks!’17 — Said R. Idi b. Abin: The mourner enquires about the peace of others [within his period of mourning]18 because others’ are abiding in peace; others enquire not about the peace of the mourner, because he is not abiding in peace [but in sorrow].19 But then, since it states [in the former Baraitha]: [After three to seven days] ‘he responds. . .’, does this not imply that others may enquire [about the mourner's peace]?20 — Where they are unaware [of his bereavement]. If so, does not the same apply also to the other earlier period?21 — [No,] then21 he is obliged to acquaint them [of his sorrow] and makes no [further] response, whereas here22 he need not acquaint them [of it]. Thereupon some contrasted [this latter Baraitha] with the following: One who meets another mourner within a twelvemonth tenders him [words of] consolation, but does not enquire about his ‘peace’;23 after a twelvemonth, he enquires about his ‘peace and does not tender him [words of] consolation, but may refer to his sorrow indirectly.24 Said R. Meir: If one meets another mourner after a twelvemonth and tenders him [then words of] consolation, to what can he be likened? To [the case of] a man who had his leg broken and healed when a physician met him and said to him, Come to me and let me break it and set it [again], to convince you that my medicine is good?