The blare of sirens still echoing in my ears, clouding out coherent thoughts in my mind, I find myself seeking out silence. I write these words knowing that I’m only adding to the cacophony of pontification, about which I’ve already complained, but I write them in hopes that maybe some of you too are tired of words that try to explain away pain or justify it or name it again and again, knowing that it only helps us a little. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t take away from the fear, the loss, and the deepening hopelessness.
I long for some moments of silence.
It’s a luxury that some of us have and some of us do not.
In the Torah, when Aaron’s sons die, Moses tries to comfort Aaron with explanations. The Torah describes Aaron’s response with a two-word phrase that lands like a punch to each side of the face: “Vayidom Aharon – Aaron was silent” (Lev. 10:3).
Nahmanides (Ramban) says that “vayidom” means “he became silent.” He writes, “This means that he had cried aloud, but then he became silent.” At first Aaron did express his grief, but after a while he fell silent. I don’t take Aaron’s silence as an acceptance of the loss, but rather an expression of struggling without answers. Words fail to comfort him. Words fail to change the situation.
Now that I am back in my safe, quiet Midwestern town, I know that silence is a privilege. I am not waiting for the next siren (although I keep thinking I hear one). Instead I wait only for the next update on the news, the next thought-provoking commentary.
What if those of us who are not under the threat of rockets overhead could choose to take some time for silence?
Can we do that together?
Those of you in my community may find that I ask for moments of silence frequently over the next little while.
Silence is one of the kindest ways to honor pain and suffering.
I dedicate my moments of silence to the pain and sorrow being experienced on the other side of the world.
I am looking to increase the peacefulness around me, in hopes that like the butterfly effect it may have some eventual impact.
If you are reading this, I invite you to join me in a moment of silence right now.