April 24, 2003
Grieving in Silence
In this week's parsha, a very tragic thing happens. Aaron's sons, Nadav and Avihu, die when they try to bring a sacrifice to God. A fire comes out and consumes them. Aaron does not get angry at God; he just grieves in silence. The rabbis try to think of all sorts of reasons why Aaron's sons deserved to die – because it seems so unfair.
This coming week, April 29 is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Sometimes, I think of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust in the same way that we think of Nadav and Avihu. Why did they have to die? What possible reason was there for them to suffer? The answer: there is none that we humans can understand. We can only grieve in silence.
In addition to the 1.5 million Jewish children who were victims of the Nazis, hundreds of thousands of other children – including Gypsies, black children, Slavs, Jehovah's Witnesses and the disabled – were also murdered.
The most famous child Holocaust victim was Anne Frank. Her family had to go into hiding. Can you bring the answers to these questions out of hiding:
"One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping: The Diary of Julie Weiss, Vienna, Austria to New York, 1938 (Dear America)," by Barry Denenberg (Scholastic Trade, 2000).
This is a fictional diary for readers 9-12 that captures the life of Viennese Jews before and during the Holocaust.