In view of the fact that the second Bais HaMikdash was destroyed due to sinas chinam, baseless hatred rampant in society of the time, we can hardly afford to disregard the legacy bequeathed to us by Aharon HaKohen, whose yahrtzeit is observed on the first day of Av. But how, one might ask, does Aharon HaKohen’s distinction as a lover of peace correlate with the Annanei Hakavod, the clouds of glory (attributed to Aharon) that accompanied the Jews during their trek in the wilderness? Simply, when there is peace and achdus among the Jewish people, they are made invincible and their enemies are powerless against them. Their ahavas chinam becomes their shield, like the Annanei Hakavod that protected them from harm on all sides.
By conferring respect for one another and avoiding strife, we emulate the midos of Aharon HaKohen who made it his life’s mission to promote peace among men.
* * *
When Yermiyahu HaNavi witnessed the terrible carnage and the blood flowing unabated, he wended his way to the Me’aras Hamachpeila to awaken his forebears from their repose and yelled for Ben-Amram to arise at the bank of the Jordan.
“Master of the World,” pleaded Avraham Avinu. “At the age of one hundred you blessed me with a son, then called upon me to bring him as a sacrifice when he was 37 years old. I set aside my emotions as a father, in readiness to do your bidding. Will you not have pity on my children?”
Yitzchak protested: “I arched my neck and stretched toward the knife with no hesitation. Will you not have mercy on my children?”
Argued Yaakov Avinu, “Ribbono Shel Olam, after all the years of struggling to raise my children, will you now deliver Am Yisroel into the hands of their enemies like sheep to the slaughter? Please have mercy!”
Moshe Rabbeinu cried: “My Master, for forty years in the wilderness I was a dedicated shepherd, only to be told that my bones will remain in the desert. Now when my children are being driven from the Holy Land, I am summoned to witness their tragedy…”
Moshe Rabbeinu and Yermiyahu HaNavi descended together to see the calamity in progress. Along the way they encountered the corpses of the fallen victims. At the shores of Bavel, the exiled exclaimed, “The son of Amram has come to redeem us!” Countered a pained Moshe Rabbeinu, “My children, only One can help you now.” As he retreated, the heart-rending cries by the waters of Babylon pierced the heavens.
Moshe updated the anxious Avos. “Some have their hands bound behind them, others are shackled in iron fetters; those who collapsed are fodder for the animals and the birds, while others lie parched under a scorching sun…”
As the Fathers broke down in lamentation for the wretched fate of their children, a soft, anguished cry could be heard… “Ribbono Shel Olam, you know the truth, that Yaakov your servant served my father for seven years on account of me, and yet when my father traded me for my sister I took pity on her and did not allow her to be shamed. I was but a mortal being and yet suppressed my human emotions. You are Almighty and All-merciful . . . should your indignation be so protracted? Won’t you be compassionate toward my children?”
G-d’s mercy was awakened. “Because of you, Rachel, I will return the Jewish children to their homeland.”
We eagerly await the day.
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