Dear STOCS Friend:
I have always believed the most difficult aspect of being a Kohain Gadol is the injunction against mourning and attending funerals of even his mother and father! לְאָבִ֥יו וּלְאִמּ֖וֹ לֹ֥א יִטַּמָּֽא for his father and mother he may not become impure. Even though there is a mitzvah to honor his parents in life and death, the SEFER HACHINUCH points out the Kohain Gadol does not even cry over the death of his nearest relatives.
The book, Torah for Your Table points out “even in the midst of losing his closest relatives, he must still carry on and perform the Temple service.” To go one step further, the Kohain is not even permitted to leave the Temple under these circumstances. וּמִן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לֹא יֵצֵא From the Sanctuary, he may not go out!
Leadership contains certain teaching moments. Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch says: With the pain in his heart and the presence of these thoughts of death, he has to, all the more strikingly, teach the power of life that flows forth from God though with its bitterness. Joyousness of life also flows forth from God.
A leader who can overcome the excruciating emotional pain of the loss of a loved one attempts to rise to the occasion. By doing so, he emphasizes the power of life. Life does not stand still. Every morning the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.
Though death occurs, meaningful and substantial life must continue. This I believe is the lesson of the Kohain Gadol.
Please God, may we know, no more sorrow!
I hope to see you in shul. Please visit the newly remodeled Kiddush room!
Rabbi Evan Shore