ROSH CHODESH AV
Our Thanks to Phil
Chernofsky of the OU/NCSY Israel Center for Including This Material in His Remarkable Torah Tidbits
The “Yahrtzeit” of Aharon
One Name is Mentioned
Only one name is mentioned in the recitation of the “Masaot,” the journeys of the Jewish People in their forty-year trek through the Wilderness, in Parshat Masei That is the name of the great Aharon HaKohen, whose death is recorded as having taken place at Hor HaHor, in the fortieth year, just before the entry of the people into the Holy Land of Israel.. His “Yahrtzeit,” the Anniversary of his death, is Rosh Chodesh Av, as the Parshah tells us (BaMidbar 33:38), “Then Aharon the Kohen went up to Hor HaHor at the word of HaShem, and died there, … in the fifth month, on the first day of the month.”
On one hand, the death of Aharon, about which the Torah says (BaMidbar 20:29), “And they wept for Aharon thirty days, the whole House of Israel,” on Rosh Chodesh Av, was a sign that this month would indeed not be a happy one in Jewish History. However, there certainly was a bitter-sweet side to the life of Aharon, and its message for the generations. Greater than the sadness, was the happiness and optimism that the memory of Aharon engendered within the soul of the Jewish People.
For Aharon HaKohen is described by Hillel as a “lover of peace, and a pursuer of peace, one who loved people and brought them closer to the Torah” (Pirkei Avot 1:12). He was the one capable of restoring “Shalom Bayit,” Peace in the Family, between husband and wife, between parents and children.
He is the one who broke the deadly cycle of sibling rivalry that had permeated and poisoned the accounts of siblings in the Bible: Kayin and Hevel, Yitzchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Esav, Yoseph and his brothers, and on and on. Until the appearance of Aharon, about whom it is written that after HaShem had told him that Moshe would be the great redeemer of Israel, and Aharon would only be his spokesman (Shemot 4:14), that Aharon “… will see you, and he will rejoice in his heart.”
The cause of sibling rivalry and much of the hatred in the world is “Sinat Chinam,” Causeless Hatred, Hatred that is based only upon the “ayin ha-ra,” the “evil eye,” that cannot tolerate success in the fellow human being.
It is said about “Sinah,” hatred, that it drives a person “michutz la-shurah,” beyond the bounds of common sense; but the same is said about “ahavah,” love; that is, that it can drive a person beyond the bounds of common sense.
The terrible spiritual “machalah,” disease, “Sinat Chinam,” was in the world, as the accounts of sibling rivalry, rivalry between brothers and sisters, and the
destruction of the Second Temple, would show. But the rule is that HaShem does not deliver a blow to the world unless the “refuah,” the healing, is already in the world. And the existence of Aharon shows that within the soul of the human being was already built in the “refuah,” the healing, for that “machalah;” namely, “Ahavat Chinam.”
Pirkei Avot 5:19 teaches that “all love that is dependent on a condition, such as wealth or beauty – when the condition ceases to exist, so will the love” – unfortunately, there are many examples of this in today’s society – but love that is not dependent on a condition, is eternal. The example given by Avot is the love between David and Jonathan. But another example would have been the love of Aharon, who loved the Jewish People, and who was their representative, especially on Yom Kippur, before G-d, and whose love was also eternal.
Aharon was the “meurav b’daat im ha-b’riyot,” the one “bound with his fellow creatures in love,” par excellence. At the Blessing of the New Month, there is a prayer that we recite, even before the Month of Av and especially before the Month of Av, whose days of destruction will eventually become days of joy, that Aharon would have loved to recite:
“He Who performed miracles for our forefathers and redeemed them from slavery to freedom – May He redeem us soon – and gather in our dispersed from the four corners of the earth; all Israel being friends. Let us respond –Amen.”