Light After Darkness
Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20 )
"After the death of Aaron's sons..." The Torah tells us that after undergoing this personal tragedy, Aaron responded with silence. He did not choose to blame God, Moses, or himself, or to descend into depression. Rather got up and tried to fulfill his mission in life. Despite his inner pain, he devoted the next 40 years of his life to fulfilling his mission and serving God.
We recently commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day, a period of incomprehensible tragedy. Yet this day of commemoration is followed a week later by Israel's Independence Day. Having been through the greatest tragedy in history, the nation that was written off time and time again rose up and built a future for themselves.
2,500 years ago, God promised "I will bring back the captivity of my people; they will rebuild desolate cities and inhabit them; they will plant vineyards and drink their wine...they will cultivate gardens...and they will never be uprooted from their land again." If we understand these words not just literally, but figuratively, we can see how God is fulfilling this promise. "I will bring back the captivity" alludes to our redemption from the camps of Europe and the Iron Curtain, and "building the cities" refers to the building of the then desolate Land of Israel. The "vineyards and gardens" allude to the tremendous contributions Israel has made to the modern world in terms of morality, technology, medicine, agriculture...
Just as Aaron was able to persevere in spite of the tragedy he experienced, the Jewish nation has managed to rise up in spite of our enemies and fulfill our mission of bringing light and blessing to the world.