“Be among the disciples of Aaron,” we read in Pirkei Avot, “loving peace and pursuing peace” (1:12).
In this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, Aaron dies.
The Israelites mourn Aaron universally. Is it any wonder? Aaron was a true rodeif shalom, a pursuer of peace. So much so, according to our Sages, that he even told little lies just to bring rivals closer together.
We often find a strange comfort when we avoid peace. We experience a perverse satisfaction when we become more entrenched in our positions, more stubborn in our anger, and further alienated from others, whoever they may be.
This is an unhealthy sort of comfort. It is far better to engage in the challenging work of pursuing peace. That means leaving the comfort zone of righteous indignation and stretching ourselves by listening, affirming, and compromising.
Not easy, but a holy way to live. Aaron would be proud.
May we pursue peace. May we hear and affirm the voice of the other -- in our families, in our congregation, in our country.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill