What I find surprising is how many otherwise intelligent people thoughtlessly connect the recent events in Japan to the two incarcerated Yerushalmis. Have they forgotten the debt of gratitude we owe the Japanese for having saved the Mirrer Yeshiva? Do they not recognize the stupidity of "seeing" condign justice in Japan when it would be- literally- one million times more appropriate for Germany and Ukraine and Lithuania and Poland to be converted to a furnace? You talk about how nature takes revenge on behalf of the Jews after the Holocaust?
Our capacity for self-delusion rivals that of our Arab cousins. But this talent has been abetted by those leaders who used to say that the Second World War was divine retribution brought upon us because of the chillul shabbos in Warsaw, or pritzus, or Zionism, or the Haskala and denial of Torah MiSinai. If we can claim to understand the divine justice behind the Holocaust, then there's nothing wrong with coming up with imbecilic explanations for such tragic events as occurred in Japan.
My Hashkafa was formed by three great men, each tested in fire, each of whose lives bespoke ancient and hallowed traditions.: My father (one of the great talmidim of Slabodka,) Rav Rudderman, and Reb Moshe. All three found such explanations both foolish and disgusting. When they heard that some talmidei chachamim had averred explanations for the Holocaust, they reacted with moral, religious, and physical revulsion. I think they might express a similar reaction to the "explanations" of the recent events in Japan. I also remember that the Ponovezher Rov, who was a close friend of our family, was once approached by a man who had lost his family in the war. The man said, Rebbe, maybe you can answer all of my questions. The Ponevezher, who had also lost his first wife and almost all his children, told him, I don't have any answers, but I don't have any questions.
In truth, this kind of contemptible talk is beneath notice. I only posted this because it highlights a lesson that is taught and repeated in this week's parsha.
May Hashem save us from such tragic events. But what is the appropriate reaction? After all, we know that whatever happens is the will of Hashem. The only answer is- Silence. The appropriate reaction is that of Aharon in this week's parsha: Vayidom Aharon.
We're used to thinking of "The Avodah of the Kohanim" as involving only the various formal sacrifices listed in Vayikra, avodah that require a Mizbei'ach, and bigdei kehuna, and klei shareis. The truth is, there was one avodas hakorbanos that is greater than all the others, and that is the Avoda that Aharon did upon the tragic death of Nadav and Avihu. His sons were the Korbanos, and the Avodah was Shtikah, silence.
We have to learn how and why to be quiet. Aharon was silent because he knew that Hashem has His reasons for what He does, and he knew that whatever the Creator does is true and good and right. It doesn't say that he smiled, or danced, or said thank you, and he didn't jump up and say "Halleluyah, they deserved it!" It was enough that he was silent, and that he reminded himself that Hashem is all-knowing and just, and that Hashem endlessly and lovingly shepherds us towards an eternal state of grace (with rare and well-earned exceptions.) Interestingly, this week's parsha not only says this, but even reiterates it. In 11:2, Rashi says that all of Klal Yisrael, who had stood shocked and distraught upon seeing what happened, also accepted Hashem's gzeira in silence, and they, too, were rewarded.
Rav Yitzchak said: what is the meaning of this passuk in Tehillim.... It means that man's craft in this word is to be mute. Is this also true regarding the study of Torah? No. On that we are taught to "go and speak righteously."
What do we see from these two Gemaros? That in Olam Hazeh, in matters of Torah and Halacha and Hashkafa, we analyze and form opinions, we take positions and defend them. But the reaction to Hashem's gzeiros is the opposite: silence, faith, acceptance. In Olam Habah, we will have the information and the ability and the strength to understand. In Olam Hazeh, only silence. Don't make a fool of yourself trying to explain Hashem's gzeiros.
Rav Matisyahu Solomon once said that this is the meaning of the the line we use at Sheva Brachos, "דְּוַי הָסֵר וְגַם חָרוֹן, וְאָז אֵלֵּם בְּשִׁיר יָרוֹן". The time will come when all suffering will end. At that time, the אֵלֵּם, the person who was silent during the time of hester panim, will sing and celebrate the glorious import of those hard times, finally revealed to be as great a simcha as that of a wedding.
Another point. What was Aharon's reward for not questioning? That Hashem taught him directly a parsha of the law. What was Klal Yisrael's reward for not questioning? That Hashem named them specifically when He taught another parsha of law. Apparently, the reward for our awareness of of our limited understanding and of Hashem's perfect justice and mercy is the divine expansion of our knowledge. A powerful, albeit silent, declaration of our inability to fathom Hashem's knowledge is the instrumentality of receiving divine knowledge.
Here's a very different perspective about the story of Aharon, and about the rule of אין מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה, that the order of the Torah is not the chronological order: The Satmarer, in his Divrei Yoel here, says that Aharon was able to bring the dead back to life, but he chose not to, because to do so would interfere with Hashem's will. He brings the Yalkut Shimoni in Tehillim 625, or on Tehillim 3, which is taken from the Shocher Tov, that says
לא נתנו פרשיותיה של תורה על הסדר
שאלמלא נתנו על הסדר
כל מי שהוא קורא בהן
לפיכך נתעלם סידורה של תורה.
וגלוי לפני הקב״ה
שנאמר (ישעי׳ מד:ה)ה
וּמִי כָמוֹנִי יִקְרָא וְיַגִּידֶהָ וְיַעְרְכֶהָ לִי מִשּׂוּמִי עַם עוֹלָם
וְאֹתִיּוֹת וַאֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאנָה יַגִּידוּ לָמוֹ
I arranged it like this because I like it in metric form.