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Parshat Shemini

Dear STOCS Friend:

Discussing the subject of silence is golden, Rabbi Beryl Wein writes: “We are besieged by chatter on all sides of our existence. Media bombardment is no longer restricted to radio or television or newsprint, all of which can be easily ignored by not listening or tuning in or reading, but it now has invaded our computers. We are constantly besieged by text, emails and advertisements that we did not particularly solicit nor find to be of any real lasting value.”

Silence is truly golden when applied properly.

The Mishna in Avot teaches:

שִׁמְעוֹן בְּנוֹ אוֹמֵר, כָּל יָמַי גָּדַלְתִּי בֵין הַחֲכָמִים, וְלֹא מָצָאתִי לַגּוּף טוֹב אֶלָּא שְׁתִיקָה 

Shimon, his son, used to say: all my days I grew up among the sages, and I have found nothing better for a person than silence. 

Sometimes, it feels normal and necessary to have an internal outburst. When we witness or are informed of a horrendous tragedy, words become our reaction. However, in Parshat Shminee we see Aaron’s response to the horrific and unexpected death of his two sons:

וַיִּדֹּ֖ם אַהֲרֹֽן

And Aaron was silent!

Rabbi Soloveitchik feels this was a symbol of commitment of faith.  Instead of asking “why” Aaron accepted with a “mute silence and acceptance of the Heavenly decree.”   The Rav maintains that silence in a tragic situation is the preferred course to follow. 

The famous Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook once wrote: “I do not speak when I have the energy to speak. I speak when I do not have the energy to keep quiet.”

Yes, there are times when silence is demanded and expected.  Situationally, our voices need to be heard loud and clear. Please God, let us have the insight to know when to be silent and when to be heard.

I wish all of you a good Shabbas.  Please join me in shul as we continue to pray for the speedy and safe release of all the hostages in Gaza.


Rabbi Evan Shore


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