Parshas Shmini

Parshas Shmini

By Rabbi Shmuel Gluck

People often find themselves unsure of how to react when a catastrophe, such as the loss of a family member, strikes. Some people deny their emotions; others “fall apart”. In this Parsha the Torah describes the deaths of Aharons sons, Nodov and Avihu, and how Aharon reacted. The topic is “broad”, but I want to leave the reader with how they should appear to others, and not with how they should feel (I’ll be happy to discuss this with anyone).

It means that they must always appear with dignity. Smart people will understand that they do care, but that they’re presenting themselves in a way that’s sensitive to others who’d become uncomfortable in seeing them “fall apart” in front of them.

The Akeidas Yitzchok writes that people should appear in public in a manner, such that foolish people will think that what took place didn’t affect them. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t care. It means that they must always appear with dignity. Smart people will understand that they do care, but that they’re presenting themselves in a way that’s sensitive to others who’d become uncomfortable in seeing them “fall apart” in front of them. It’s also emotionally healthy for them to refrain from “falling apart”, which will often cause people to become even more distraught.

The proper balance between denial, and falling apart is difficult, especially at a time when people are emotionally fragile. Balance is also needed when people are angry. Smart people will be aware that they’re angry, although their anger doesn’t show. Regardless of the emotion they’re feeling, they should act composed in public.

People should remember that the balance suggested by the Torah is advice that people will appreciate later because they will have “survived’ their difficult time in an effective manner.

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