Parashat Shemini: “Vayidom Aharon.” Aaron was silent, says the text. Was it shocked silence? Perhaps. Or, perhaps, it was silence which results from the depth of one’s emotions, too overwhelming to express in words?
One Saturday night in November, 1995, I was making havdala with JTS rabbinical students spending a year in Israel Matt Berkowitz, Matt Eisenfeld z”l and Shai Held in their apartment in Rehavia. The calmness of the evening broke down when an urgent announcement of the tragic and unexpected murder of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was made on the radio.
As we mourn the victims in The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Rabbi Ilana Foss shares her perspective on our moral obligation in tragedy’s wake.
When tragedy strikes what do we say to God? In Parshat Shemini Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, die suddenly. Dr. David Frankel, senior lecturer in Bible at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, examines Aaron’s silent response and contrasts it with The Book of Job and the outrage Job expresses when faced with suffering. When is the time for silent submission and when is outraged protest appropriate?
Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigelson, Mashpiah Ruhanit (Spiritual Mentor) and senior lecturer of Rabbinics and Hasidic Thought at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary, explores Jacob’s identity when he is on his deathbed. Jacob, also known as Israel, articulates his values as he dies and how he wants his descendants, the Children of Israel, to live.
In my book Ideology and Landscape, which is about reinterring Zionist leaders in the homeland, I devoted a chapter to the reburial of Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Ramat Hanadiv. He and his wife Ada (Adelheid) were reinterred there in April 1954 in an imposing public ceremony. An Israeli battleship brought the coffins from Marseille to Haifa, and from there they were transported to the majestic burial estate south of the Carmel.
After checking dozens of books we have learned that there are three customs related to dirt, grass and stones at the end of the burial service or after visiting a grave. We shall present them in chronological order with the sources and explanations we have found for each custom:
Asked by Rabbi Rachel Schwartz on the behalf of a pupil at a Hebrew school in the United States: Why is the kittel worn on the High Holy Days? When were Torah scrolls first dressed in white for the High Holy Days and what prompted this change?
From the story of a life on its last journey, from words of family members gathered around the grave, rises terrible pain but also a great light. Notes from Mt. Herzl