August 2, 2008 coincided with the first day of the Hebrew month of Av, marking the beginning of the period known as "The Nine Days."
The first of Av is the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the death) of Aaron the High Priest, the brother of Moses and Miriam (Numbers 33:38). The great sage Hillel said about Aaron: "Be among the disciples of Aaron, love peace and pursue peace..." (Ethics of the Fathers 1:12).
Though Aaron was older, Moses was called to lead the Israelites out from slavery in Egypt. Aaron, who was later chosen to serve as the head of the priestly dynasty, accepted his younger brother’s ascendancy with a full and open heart - he even greeted Moses with a kiss upon his return to Egypt. (Exodus 4:27)
In a time when an older brother was naturally regarded as the leader of the family, Aaron was able to sublimate his own feelings for the benefit of the people, never displaying any evidence of jealousy or sibling rivalry. Consider other rivalries in patriarchal families: Ishmael hated Isaac, Esau hated Jacob, Joseph’s brothers hated him. Before them, Cain famously argued with and murdered his younger brother, Abel. Aaron’s and Moses’ relationship was clearly unique.
The Talmud maintains that God caused the Second Temple to be destroyed by the Romans because of the Jews' "wanton hatred" for each other and their inability to "get along." There is no better time than these early days of Av to remember to follow the example of Aaron the High Priest, who loved peace and pursued peace.
For more on the Nine Days, click here.
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