Pearls of Rashi – Shemini II

This week we read the Torah portion of Shemini. The Mishkan was finally complete, and the Jews in the wilderness began using it. Aharon entered, and took his rightful place as the High Priest. This was a time of great joy for the Jewish Nation.

However, a tragic event took place; the passing of Aharon’s two eldest sons, as the Torah tells us, “… each took his pan, put fire in them. They placed incense upon it, and they brought before Hashem foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.[1]” Immediately thereafter the Torah exclaims[2], “fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before Hashem.”

Earlier, we discussed reasons which Rashi quotes from the Sages for the severe punishment of Nodov and Avihu. “Rabbi Yishmoel says that (the reason they died was because) they had entered the sanctuary after having drunk wine.” Rashi cites the proof of Rabbi Yishmoel’s opinion; immediately after this took place, the Torah “warned the survivors not to enter the sanctuary after having drunk wine[3].” Rashi concludes his discussion with the words “This is analogous to a king who had a faithful attendant who was a member of the king’s household, etc., as written in Vayikroh Rabbah.”

We need to understand this. Rashi is either writing too much or too little. If he wants us to look in the Midrash ourselves, he only needed to say that this situation is analogous to a king, as cited in Vayikroh Rabbah. Otherwise, he should have cited the entire text of the Midrash Rabbah.

The explanation is, that Rashi writes clearly that Rabbi Yishmoel’s proof is the fact that after this incident took place Hashem prohibited entering the sanctuary after having drunk wine. In other words, the commandment was not given until after they violated it. Based on this, they were punished with a death penalty for doing something which they were not yet warned against. How can Nodov and Avihu be punished for a transgression of this sort?

In order to answer this question, Rashi told us what we need to know. The king (Hashem) had a faithful attendant who was a member of his household (Nodov and Avihu). They should have known that Hashem, the King, would not be pleased by such behavior.

None of us (to the best of my knowledge) are as great as Aharon’s two eldest sons. Hashem judges each of us according to our own abilities. We should all be happy that G-d chose all of us as members of His household (as so to speak). We must always be careful that our behavior suits our stature.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 12, Pages 49

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Vayikroh 10:1.

[2]. Our Parshah, Vayikroh 10:2.

[3]. In our Parshah, Vayikroh 10:9, it is written “Do not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you shall not die …”

Leave a Reply

Name and email address are required. Your email address will not be published.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <pre> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: