In this week’s parsha, Moshe’s brother, the Kohen Gadol Aharon (High Priest Aaron), dies. “The whole congregation saw that Aharon had expired, and the entire House of Israel (kol bet Yisroel) wept for Aharon for thirty days.” The commentators contrast Aharon’s passing with that of Moshe, recounted at the end of Torah (Devarim/Deuteronomy 34:8): “And the sons of Israel (B’nai Yisroel) wept for Moshe in the plains of Moab for thirty days...”
Why is the mourning said to be greater for Aharon than for Moshe, though both mourning periods last thirty days?
Rashi explains: “[Both] the men and the women [mourned for Aharon], for Aharon would pursue peace and instill love between parties to a quarrel and between a man and his wife.” In his commentary on the death of Moshe, Rashi explains that although B’nai Yisroel ordinarily means Children of Israel, male and female, here it refers only to the men.
There is further clarification in the Midrash, Avot d’Rabbi Natan 12:3-4: “Why did Israel cry for Aharon for thirty days? Because…he never said to any man ‘you sinned’…[as opposed to] Moshe who rebuked them harshly.” The Midrash tells that Aharon convinced sinners to change their ways simply by greeting them with a smile. They wouldn’t be able to sin knowing that the next time they saw Aharon they would have to return his greeting.
The Midrash also recounts that when two people argued, Aharon would talk to the parties separately and get them each to “dispel the ill feeling from his heart.” Thousands of couples named their sons Aharon to acknowledge that Aharon had made peace and reunited the husband and wife.
As parents, except in the most serious situations, we should avoid using harsh language to rebuke our children. Instead, we should follow the advice of Rabbi Hillel (Pirkei Avot 1:12) “Be among the disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah.”