Chazal (Avos D’Rabanan 12:3) relate to us how Aharon Hakohen made peace between warring parties. He would visit one of the disputants and tell him that the other disputant is tearing his clothes and grievingly bitterly: “He is saying: ‘Woe to me! How can I lift my eyes and see my friend? I am embarrassed before him! I was the one who acted wrongly!”
After staying long enough to remove the animosity felt by this individual, Aharon Hakohen visited the other disputant and related to him the very same words, once again staying until he had succeeded in eradicating the acrimony.
When the former disputants next met, they would embrace each other!
How is it possible that Aharon Hakohen, who represented the attribute of truth, should speak what appears to be untruth, even if it is intended for the altruistic reason of making peace between two individuals?
In the sefer Imoros Tehoros, the Rachmastrivka Rebbe, shlita, quotes the Degel Machaneh Ephraim as saying, in the name of the Toldos Yaakov Yosef, that someone who never deviates from saying the truth at all other times, is permitted to deviate from the truth in order to bring peace between disputants.
With this concept the Degel explains a Rashi in our parashah.
“Vayaas kein Aharon — Aharon Hakohen did so” [as Hashem had instructed him]. Rashi teaches us this comes “to tell the praise of Aharon, that he did not deviate.”
Many meforshim seek to explain this seemingly puzzling statement, for certainly there was never any doubt that Aharon Hakohen — whose lofty spiritual level is beyond our comprehension — would not deviate from Hashem’s instructions!
The Degel explains that “did not deviate” means from saying the truth at all other times, and therefore was permitted to do so during his peacemaking efforts.
The Rachmastrivka Rebbe offers another explanation in the name of Harav Yitzchak the Rebbe of Neschiz:
When Aharon Hakohen came to visit, as he told the individual that the other disputant bitterly regrets the fight, he managed to simultaneously instill into the heart of the fellow true regret for his actions — and therefore was actually telling the truth!
“Vayaas kein Aharon” — Aharon actually accomplished the very words he was uttering, and therefore was praised that he indeed did not deviate from saying the truth at all times.
In the sefer Eish Kodesh, written in middle of the Holocaust, the Piaseczner Rebbe, Hy”d, poignantly teaches the following explanation in the words of Rashi: Regardless of the circumstances, no matter how difficult or challenging the situation was, Aharon Hakohen never deviated from his avodas Hakodesh.
This dvar Torah defined the life of the Piaseczner Rebbe himself, for the Rebbe continued to serve Hashem despite unbearable conditions. Even after losing his entire family and most of his chassidim, he continued to be mechadesh divrei Torah and to record his chiddushim until he was killed al Kiddush Hashem by the accursed Nazis. After the war, his divrei Torah were miraculously found and published under the appropriate title Aish Kodesh — Holy Fire.
The Piaseczner Rebbe, whose life was taken in a Nazi death camp, has no kever; nor did any of his children survive him. But his spiritual legacy will inspire Klal Yisrael until Moshiach comes.
It is told that the Satmar Rebbe was once asked: “In the absence of the Rebbe, to whom should we present a kvittel?”
The Rebbe gave a very clear answer: “In the morning before Shacharis, look around. If you should see a Yid rolling up a sleeve to put on tefillin who has a concentration camp number tattooed on his arm, give him your kvittel!”
Baruch Hashem, we have the zechus to have such Yidden still among us today. They also serve as beacons of inspiration for all of us, as they are among the spiritual giants of our time.
Most of us cannot possibly fathom the magnitude of the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust. But each of us has his or her times of tribulation and challenge. Since the Ribbono shel Olam created each of us with a different type of personality, we react differently to the obstacles we face in life. What may seem a relatively minor issue to one person can be a major personal crisis to another. What we all have in common, though, is a need for chizuk and inspiration.
There are times and situations when the only way to persevere is by strengthening ourselves with the emunah exhibited by so many of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.