Parshat Chukah – Shalom Bayit
This week’s parsha discusses the death of Aharon, the High Priest, Moshe’s brother. Aharon had been the first spiritual leader working as counterpart to Moshe’s political leadership. It says that “the entire House of Israel” greatly mourned Aharon.
It should be obvious that the people would mourn Aharon, so what is the Torah teaching us by telling us that not only did they mourn, but everyone mourned?
Rashi says that the reason every single Israelite mourned, men and women, is that “Because Aharon pursued shalom bayit, and instilled affection between antagonists.”
What Aharon had brought to the community was shalom bayit, literally “peace of the home,” and the people instantly felt that lack without him. Aharon had taught the people that fostering peace and respect is fundamental. This is true even for “antagonists,” — we don’t all have to agree, and indeed the legacy of the Jewish people honors disagreement within community. Our most sacred books include the Talmud, over 60 volumes of rabbis arguing with each other. But at the core of our peoplehood is the value of peace, that we are all in the same bayit, house, and must all be united in keeping it standing, in service of the Divine.
As we start camp this week, we’re opening our home and welcoming each other in. Even though we’re all from different backgrounds, and have different interpretations of Judaism, what must be fundamental to our little House of Israel in Northwood, New Hampshire is peace and respect for one another.
This is our home, this is our bayit, and we must fill it with shalom.
Questions for the Shabbat Table:
- How have you, in Rashi’s words, “instilled affection between antagonists”?
- How can you contribute to shalom bayit at camp this summer?