There is only one person in the entire Torah whose date of passing is shared with us in the Torah. It is Aaron, Moses’ brother. The Torah teaches us that he passed away on the first of the Hebrew month of Av.
What is significant about the date of his passing because of which he is the only person about whom we are told the exact date of his passing, his Yahrtzeit?
The date of Aharon’s passing is the beginning each year of an intense 9 days of Jewish mourning. During these next 9 days we do not purchase clothing or any large purchases, we suspend building, we do not bathe or hear music or dance for pleasure, we do not cut hair and we do not eat meat or drink wine (besides Shabbat and one who is ill etc)
The reason for the mourning is to commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temples which according to Jewish teaching was caused by baseless hatred among the Jewish People. Aaron dedicated his life to strengthening bonds of friendship and relationship (as we are taught in the Mishnah in Pirkei Avot).
By teaching us the date of Aaron’s passing as the date on which we are meant to focus on kindness toward each other, the Torah is intimating the way to observe a Yahzrteit. It is by focusing on furthering the life mission of the departed.
How do you commemorate a Yahrtzeit? Those who have passed on have left the world of accomplishment and they miss that opportunity to make a difference. You can extend their life through your deeds. Extend the life of the departed by living their teachings and values. Aaron lived kindness and this is the specific time in which we are supposed to emulate him by doing the same.
So Yahrtzeit is not just about remembering, it is about doing and by doing the life of our loved ones endures…
Mendel (Menachem) Bluming and Rabbi EG