Moshe tells of the two stone tablets that he carved to replace the broken ones. Moshe digresses from that story to recount the death of his brother Aaron (10:6) before continuing his narration with a recap of the significant historical episodes that the Jewish people encountered. Considering that Aaron’s death happened almost forty years after the tablets were broken, why does Moshe choose this very moment to interject the sentence where he did?
Ramban suggests that Moshe’s mention of Aaron’s death diverts our attention back to Aaron’s involvement in the golden calf (9:20) and his wish to convey the efficacy of prayer. We internalize the message that no matter how dire we think a situation is, there is always a way to resolve it. Divrei David adds a worthy analogy: Aaron’s death was a significant and seemingly irreparable loss, but we soon discover that Aaron was honorably replaced by a worthy successor (his son Elazar). Similarly, after the Jewish people experienced the shattering of the original tablets, they were able to recover from the devastating loss by receiving new ones.
Perhaps we can combine the two lessons learned from the interjection of Aaron’s passing: Losing loved ones is never easy, but we take comfort in knowing that we’ve enjoyed them while they were with us. We cope with and grow from our losses by appreciating that losses happen, life changes, and we do our best by honoring their memories through prayer and introspection.