Thursday, April 12, 2007

no preferential treatment

Parshat Sh'mini

The children of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, enter the Mishkan in the Holy of Holies and offer an unauthorized sacrifice. For it they are punished with immediate death. In 10:3 Moshe says to Aharon, "That is what Hashem said By My close ones I shall be sanctified".

What a wicked person gets punished, people are understanding. They say he deserved it anyway. When a tzaddik gets punished it usually raises questions of faith. Why do bad things happen to good people, and the like.

These guys had heavy duty vitamin P (Protexia). There wer eonly 5 kohanim at the time, and they were two of them. They were the sons of Aharon. the nephews of Moshe. These are two people who are among an elite group and people hand-selected by God to lead the Jewish Nation.

With all that going for them, you would think they would be given a little leeway. Okay, so they did something wrong. We can let it slide. Nobody even knew they did anything wrong anyway - they did it in the Holy of Holies where nobody could see or know. Hashem could easily have slapped them on the wrist and said I will let it go this time just don't do it again.

But no. In My close ones I will be sanctified. When Hashem takes their lives, especially these people, as punishment for their actions, it makes the kiddush Hashem even greater. People see that the rules apply to everybody equally. There is no preferential treatment.

Moshe, Aharon, and families have to perform equally as, or even better than, everybody else. בקרבי אקדש.

1 comment:

a_man said...

You could also say that they got exactly what they were seeking: What was the purpose of their "foreign fire" which was not commended of them? What was the reason for not getting married? For not having children? Getting drunk? Etc about their other odd behavior (as mentioned in the midrash)?

Answer: simply stated they were seeking pure spirituality.

Why get drunk? A drunk person's inhibitions are weakened. A drunk person is able to better connect to the spiritual because the physical body isn't putting-up as big a fight. (Indeed there are stories in the Gemara [can't recall where exactly] where the חכמים would serve wine at the meal and only after they got a bit tipsy they were able to expound on the secretes of Torah -- נכנס יין יצא סוד.)

Why not get married? For some people getting into a family situation and having kids adds complexity to their life. They feel that it detracts from their ability to meditate and be more spiritual.

Fire is likened to passion, burning desire. So, they had a burning desire to come close to Hashem, such closeness that is not commended of a person (i.e., a foreign desire).

So, everything they did was to become closer and closer to Hashem, by whatever means necessary. They were indeed VERY holy people. The same stock as the rest of the Cohanim. (Their decedents nowadays have much to take pride in!)

Alas, Nadav and Avihu crossed the line! Due to their proximity to Hashem (in kodesh hakodashim, of all places), and the intense revelation they experienced, their neshama could no longer cleave to their body. Their sole was consumed by Hashem's fire. In fact they negated the divine intention of נשמה בגוף.

Also note that they're not described in any derogatory terms and get no derogatory labels added to their names, as far as I know. Indeed they were both נפתר בשם טוב מן העולם, for their intentions were pure, holy and noble, though the means were uncalled-for (and in-fact contrary to the divine intention.)

Essentially, they got exactly what they were seeking, ultimate closeness to Hashem. I think Aharon understood that, which contributed to his non-reaction.