It has been difficult. Bereaved families are talking about how hard it’s been not to go to the military cemetery, not to invite friends and relatives over, to have observed Memorial Day under corona restrictions.
I heard a grieving father take consolation in a passage from this week’s parshah:
“Aharon the High Priest becomes a grieving father. Two of his sons die and then he receives instructions regarding the holiest prayer on the holiest day of the year. He is called upon to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur:
‘And no man shall be in the Tent of Meeting when he comes to bring atonement in the Holy of Holies until he comes out. And he shall bring atonement for himself, for his household, and for the entire congregation of Israel’ (Leviticus 16:17).
“The high priest is alone. It is forbidden for anyone to be with him, but it is precisely because of this restriction that his power is so great. These moments of isolation are intimate, quiet, and holy. But he does not represent himself alone. He represents the whole nation and prays ‘for the entire congregation of Israel.'”
In a certain sense, during this time of remembrance, we have all been “high priests.” We have been very alone, but within our isolation we have thought about everyone else. We are physically connected both to those who are distant to us in this world and to those who are present in the next.
(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)