Wordless Tears

Erev Shabos Kodesh, Sefer Vayikra, Parshas Tzav, Shabos ha’Gadol.

Sefer Vayikra, also known as Toras Kohanim, reads mostly like an instruction book to the kohanim regarding their service in the Sanctuary.  In the words of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, “The laws of sacrifices that dominate the early chapters of the book of Leviticus are among the hardest in the Torah to relate to in the present; (for) it has been almost two thousand years since the Temple was destroyed and the sacrificial system came to an end” (Covenant & Conversation, Leviticus, p.79).

Parshios Vayikra, Tzav, Shmini, Tazria-Metzora, Achrei Mos-Kedoshim…Toras Kohanim.

Olah offerings, Shlamim offerings, Chatas and Todah offerings.  Hashem, in His Divine Mercy, accepts animal sacrifices in the place of man himself (see Ramban to Lev.1:9).
However, it has been almost 2,000 years since we have had the zechus to offer animal sacrifices instead of ourselves…It has been two-thousand years of too many korbanos, too many tears, and far too much pain.

This has been a very difficult year for Klal Yisrael.  From the cities of Gaza to the heights of the Golan – our young boys have fallen; from the museums of Brussels to the synagogues of Copenhagen – our brethren have been taken down; from the shuls of Har Nof to the markets of France – our holy men have been slaughtered; from the children taken too young in the streets of Jerusalem, to those plucked in their prime from their home in Brooklyn.  How many korbanos have we offered to Hashem this year!

When we are confronted with Midas Ha’Din – the Divine Attribute of Strict Justice – we can only bow our heads in submission and silence.

And it was on the eighth day, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, that Aharon’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, were consumed by a Heavenly fire.  And it was on the seventh day of Shabos Kodesh, Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5775, that Eliane, David, Rivkah, Yehoshua, Moshe, Sarah and Yaakov Sassoon, aleihim l’shalom, lost their lives.

And a fire went out from before Hashem, and consumed them, and they died before Hashem.  And Moshe said to Aharon, This is what Hashem spoke, saying: I will be sanctified through those who are close to Me, and before the entire nation I will be honored, וַיִּדֹּם, אַהֲרֹן – And Aharon was silent (Lev.10:2-3).

At the levaya for his seven children, Gavriel Sassoon cried out: “There’s nothing to say, There’s nothing to say. There’s only one way to survive this: complete and utter total surrender. Surrender. That’s it.”

וַיִּדֹּם, אַהֲרֹן – And Aharon was silent.

And yet, Moshe consoled him and said:
וַאֲחֵיכֶם, כָּל-בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל–יִבְכּוּ אֶת-הַשְּׂרֵפָה, אֲשֶׁר שָׂרַף יְ – And your brothers, the entire house of Israel, will mourn and cry for the burning that Hashem has burned (Lev.10:6).

A Jew never cries alone.

A dear friend once shared the following powerful story with me.  Her son was learning in Eretz Yisrael when his great uncle, Harav Chaim Zelig Meir Cantor z’l, was niftar.  Her son went to fulfill the mitzvah of ניחום אבילים and while he was there, a distinguished looking rabbi entered the room.  Everyone present became very quiet when the rabbi entered.  The rabbi sat down and he cried – no one spoke, not he, not the mourners, not the other people in the room – the rabbi just cried with the mourners, recited the verse of Ha’Makom, and then the rabbi left.
After he left, my friend’s son looked at the others in the room and asked, “Who was that man?”
“R’ Nosson Zvi Finkel (zt’l – Rosh Yeshiva Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim),” was the reply.

A Jew never cries alone.

Tze’akah, explains R’ Shimshon Pincus zt’l, is a wordless scream.  It is a tefillah from the deepest depths of one’s heart, “when a person’s heart is so agitated from the grave intensity of his plea that he can’t even get words out of his mouth; all he can do is emit a scream” (Gates of Prayer, p.75).
No words – just tears and prayers.

And so, as we reflect back on the year that has passed and the korbanos that have been offered, we mourn together, we cry together, and we pray together.  We pray every day, three times a day, for Hashem to return His Shechina to Tzion.  We pray every day, three times a day, for Hashem to restore the service to the BHM”K, and to once again accept our fire offerings with love and favor (Ri’tzay, recited in the Amidah)… For Him to once again accept our animal sacrifices, in the place of human korbanos.

You Hashem reign forever, Your throne endures from generation to generation;
לָמָּה לָנֶצַח תִּשְׁכָּחֵנוּ, תַּעַזְבֵנוּ לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים – Why do You eternally forget us, forsake us for so long?
הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ יְ – Return us Hashem,
אֵלֶיךָ ונשוב (וְנָשׁוּבָה), חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם – to You, that we may return; renew our days as of old;
כִּי אִם-מָאֹס מְאַסְתָּנוּ, קָצַפְתָּ עָלֵינוּ עַד-מְאֹד – For even if You have utterly rejected us, You have already raged sufficiently against us (Eichah 5:19-22)…

We are left only with a wordless scream.  No words – just tears and prayers.

B’Nissan nig’alu, b’Nissan asidin li’goel – Our Sages assure us that just as in Nissan our forefathers were redeemed (from Egypt); In Nissan Klal Yisrael in the future will be redeemed (Bavli R”H 11a).  May it be soon and in our days, amen v’amen.

Wishing you all a peaceful Shabos Kodesh and a month of geula and comfort for our entire nation,

Michal

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