Aaron on the Side of Caution: Hukkat 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How much time do you usually need to grieve, given that everyone grieves at a different pace? Have there been times when it’s taken an unexpectedly long time to “get over” something?

The death of Aaron sends the Israelites into a month of mourning:

The Pitch: “The whole community knew that Aaron had breathed his last. All the house of Israel bewailed Aaron thirty days.” – Numbers 20:29

Swing #1: “This verse proves that during all those years that the ‘House of Israel’ had spent in the wilderness there had not been even so much as one case of manslaughter among the Jewish people. How do we know this? Because we are explicitly told that ‘all the House of Israel’ mourned for Aaron. Had there been a manslayer among the people of Israel, the mourning for the High Priest would not have been universal. For according to law, anyone guilty of manslaughter had to leave his tent and the Levite camp and to dwell outside the Camp of the Children of Israel.” – Meshekh Hakhmah

Swing #2: “Thirty days: Equal to the mourning period for Moshe, and a good indication of Aharon’s stature.” – Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses

Swing #3: “When two people were fighting with one another, Aaron would go and sit next to one of them … until his rage subsided. Then Aaron would go to the other person in the fight and … would sit with him until his rage subsided. When the two people saw each other, they would embrace and kiss one another. And that is why it says, ‘And the entire House of Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days’ [after his death].” – Avot d’Rabbi Natan

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators seem to agree why Aaron is mourned for an entire month? Should he be remembered for the exact same duration as his brother Moses? What kinds of mourning ensure that our loved ones’ memories will be for a blessing?

On-Deck at TBT: So, I’ve been asked to throw out the first pitch before the Bisons game with the Brotherhood this Sunday. Make sure to be at Sahlen Field if you can – to see whether I throw a strike down the middle or send it halfway to the Canadian border.

The Big Inning at the End: What kind of pitch should I throw? I’m thinking knuckleball, but happy to hear your suggestions …

Shabbat Shalom!