Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pashut - by Chaim Mellul

The Torah, in addition to its formal teachings, presents us with stories from the lives of our great personalities. In these instances the Torah , instead of relating a complete and organized biography, presents a few choice events in which G-d's "chosen" act or react in a certain way or adopt a certain behavior which provide universal examples for all. These sequences are very valuable lessons for a people searching for models of behavior.
One of these episodes relates the terrible pain of Aaron confronted with the death of Nadav and Avihu, his dearly beloved sons. The Torah , in describing his reaction, adopts a very concise text, with the startling words "and Aaron was silent". What is the meaning of this "silence" and what lesson has it come to teach. It would be an error to consider this silence a "non-reaction" or that the grief was so intense that he was in shock. Furthermore, not only is silence not necessarily mute, but the spoken word is often limiting and limited. Words can never describe the indescribable.
In the Chassidic terminology, there is a Hebrew term which expresses this silence. It is "pashout", (simple) which transcends any limited form and is capable of taking many different forms all at the same time, because it has no limitations. This silence permits one to concentrate
one's thoughts, which convey so much more than speech. Thus, this apparent simplicity reveals, when analyzed carefully, a depth that one could not perceive at first, a moral richness which draws forth admiration.
This term "pashout" could be the best way to describe Gedaliah, a'h'. At first glance, one would be struck by his great simplicity. He had a natural ability to put himself on the same level as any person to whom he was speaking, It did not matter who this person was or even if he had to converse in a foreign language in which he was not completely fluent. Just his smile alone was enough to create a comfortable impression, as everyone who spoke with him either in his own home or on his many trips, can testify.
However, Gedaliah's "simplicity" was, more than anything, a sign of immense erudition. Through his humble manner, he shared his tremendous knowledge in every subject. With his amazing ability to synthesize his diverse interests, he made them available to everyone.
Many people benefited from this wisdom that was presented with such "simplicity."
His good deeds were innumerable, as testified by the many, many people who were welcomed to his home and felt so comfortable in his presence as well as by the representatives of countless institutions to whom he contributed generously. Each donation was accompanied by
an ever-present smile and a shining "simplicity."
In conclusion Gedaliah's simplicity was the perfect synthesis of knowledge and deed, of wisdom and behavior. Our Sages, coined the phrase, "Neim halichot" "he who is pleasant in all his ways." The Sages made the further point that," he who is appreciated by G-d's creatures is loved by G-d."
We believe that the soul is eternal. We know that the physical body is but an accessory to the soul. We know that Gedaliah lives on in another realm, yet this knowledge does not lessen our grief. Although we can no longer see that smile, enjoy a discussion with him or bask in his presence, we must keep silent, as Aaron taught us.
This image of Gedaliah's simplicity and the merit to have known such an exceptional individual will forever be present in our minds and hearts.

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