During the first seven days of the Tabernacle’s inauguration, all that Aaron and his sons were required to do was to remain in the tent. Nevertheless, the Torah extols them for carrying out all that Hashem had commanded them through Moshe. What was the praiseworthiness of Aaron and his sons? During this period, they didn’t need todo anything, all they had to simply not leave the Tabernacle, yet the Torah goes out of the way to praise them for not deviating from their orders.
Parshat Shemini begins with, “It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron, his sons, and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron: “Take for yourself a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for an ascending offering, without blemish, and offer them before G-d. “And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying: Take a kid goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for an ascending offering. Also, a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before G-d, and a meal offering mingled with oil, “for today G-d will appear to you.” However, aside from these required sacrifices, the sons of Aaron offered an “alien fire” instead of regular fire, a mistake that proved fatal for them. The results are comparable to modern times, where even the simplest mistakes have resulted in tragedies for thousands. When we think of this Parsha, it sounds very similar to a lot of what we have endured over the past year.
We have all faced different hardships over the past year, and for most of the year there has been one request of us: “stay in the tent.” We simply needed to stay home during a lockdown. Just as Aaron and his sons were lauded for staying put when it was asked of them, we also did what we needed to stay safe and healthy, as difficult and as challenging as that may have been. As we turn the corner and look to return to a ‘normal’ life, we are making great strides in our efforts to vaccinate the nation. However, we all must take responsibility for our actions. We know how to fight this virus, better than ever before and over 150 million shots have been distributed! However, we are not finished returning the country to normalcy, and we need to remember that and make sure that we safely get to the finish line.
Aaron’s sons did not listen properly to the instructions they were given and cause much pain and sorrow to their families. We as a nation have seen so many people following Aaron’s sons by ignoring the presence of the virus and doing as they please. Many of these non-believers have unfortunately been infected themselves and have infected others through sheer denial and misplaced pride.It’s terrible to think about how many lives could have been saved if everyone listened to those around them and the words of the CDC.
Let us stay strong and committed to doing the right thing during these challenging times. Let us hope and pray that soon we can all safely leave the “tent” and return to our normal lives.
Rachel Applebaum and Zach Zeaman
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