By Five Towns Marriage Initiative

Parashas Shemini discusses the death of the sons of Aharon HaKohen on the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan. Moshe Rabbeinu tells Aharon HaKohen of the death of his two sons Nadav and Avihu. The Torah records Aharon’s reaction to this tragic news: “Vayidom Aharon,” “And Aharon was silent.” Many commentators question why the Torah mentioned that he was silent. If no reaction was recorded, we would assume that he didn’t say anything.

The Sifsei Chachamim explains that it specifically mentions his silence to teach us that Aharon was rewarded for his silence in this situation. The Chofetz Chaim points out that the language of silence used in this pasuk, “vayidom,” is not the typical word for silence. He explains that the word “vayidom” has a root of “domem,” an inanimate object. An inanimate object doesn’t have any expression at all. Aharon HaKohen, at the time that he heard the news of his sons’ deaths, was like a “domem”; there was no sign at all of pain in his facial expression, only acceptance of the will of Hashem.

Oftentimes when a person holds himself back from reacting verbally or making a comment, he feels proud of himself. However, he may not realize that even though he didn’t have a verbal reaction, he did have a reaction. His feelings were “written all over his face” or visible in his body language. When a husband comes home and the house is a mess and dinner isn’t ready, even if he bites back his sarcastic comment and doesn’t say anything, if his facial expression and shoulders are giving over a negative message it still hurts.

When a husband comes home after a long day of work and forgot the milk, his wife may not say anything or she might even say “It’s OK” but her face and body can be sending a different message. Of course something was accomplished by not making the comment or reacting verbally to the situation, but there is another level that is even higher. That is the level of not even showing your reaction on your face or with your body language. That is the level of “vayidom.” It is a level that may require a lot of work on our part, but it is a level to aspire to, a level that can have tremendous positive results on our relationships with our spouse, our children, and our neighbors and friends.

Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00—11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail

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