This week’s parashah, parashat Sh’mini, relates an event in which Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, who was the first Cohen Hagadol (great priest), died by a strange fire that they had caused in the altar of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Many commentators have tried to explain what Aaron’s sons actually did and what that strange fire meant.
However, in this essay I do not want to stop at this fact, but, rather to explore the reaction of the father when he learned about the tragedy of his sons. The Torah tells us: “Vayidom Aharon” (“And Aaron was silent”) (Vayikra 10:3). Aaron lost his loved ones, his children, and he remained silent; he was speechless, he had no words to say.
Aaron had the gift of speech, he was able to stand before Pharaoh and tell him Moses’ words. However, after the tragedy his sons suffered, Aaron was silent. His grief was so deep, and his horror was so consuming that no words came to him.
Some commentators explain that Aaron was silent and didn’t cry or question or complain at his painful loss because he accepted God’s harsh judgment.
We might also think that the tragedy was so sudden that it paralyzed him, and he did not realize what happened or maybe his anguish and pain were so great and deep that he could not express these difficult feelings in words.