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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U’Pashtei Parshas Shemini

Mesorah is the Key

Parshas Shemini tells of the eighth day, the day where at last Aharon HaKohen and his sons were to perform the avodah in the Mishkan. So much work and planning had led up to this moment, and Klal Yisroel would now finally be able to connect with Hashem through this most awesome avenue. But then something went horribly wrong. Nadav and Avihu, the two elder sons of Aharon, lost their lives. There are many opinions brought as to why exactly these great men were killed. Perhaps it was because they thought themselves greater than, and looked to replace, Moshe and Aharon; or perhaps they had drunk some wine before entering to serve before Hashem at this most awesome time. A third opinion is that they had benefited improperly from the visage of Hashem at Har Sinai, and a fourth explains that they made a conscious decision to remain unmarried. Now, according to all of these opinions, it can be understood why specifically these two sons of Aharon were killed. Rashi to Devarim 9:20, however, seems to indicate that Aaron’s sons died now as a punishment for his sin at the Eigel. Moshe prayed on his behalf, and was able to save half of Aharon’s sons. Now, if in reality Aharon deserved to lose all four of his children, why were Nadav and Avihu chosen? I believe that the answer lies in another interpretation cited by Chazal, which is that Nadav and Avihu had sinned by issuing a halachic ruling in front of their Rebbi, Moshe Rabbeinu. The fact that they could act on their own opinion despite the presence of Moshe showed their lack of total adherence to the mesorah; of cleaving to one’s Rebbi and following his direction whether one can make sense of it or not. If they had asked if they may bring a new fire before Hashem, they would of course have been instructed not to do so. Nadav and Avihu had reasoned that although Hashem had commanded that a fire from Heaven be used, there was more than one way to achieve the pleasantness of a korban before Hashem. We will bring our own fire and please Him as well. And in a way, the entire mistake that Aharon made by the Eigel was that he made his own calculations, and allowed the nation opportunity to sin. He reasoned that if they were to kill him as they had Chur, slaying both the Kohen and the Navi on one day, there would be no teshuvah possible. He therefore did whatever he could to keep them from committing this sin, and the result was the Eigel. When Moshe davened to save Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu could not be saved, for they still retained this tiny flaw that would affect the mesorah of the nation. Another unrelated sin might have made Nadav and Avihu liable to be punished, but Aharon’s merit would have protected them. The reason they were liable to be punished on account of Aharon’s sin was because they were found lacking of the same of the issue that had affected Aharon at that time. And this weakness of our mesorah is something that plagues us today. How many of us can say that we follow daas Torah in all that we strive for? Many people unfortunately only seek the Torah’s direction when they cannot think of another solution! We must find a Rebbi who can guide us constantly, and teach us how to live the way the Torah wants us to. To state this point further; when one’s decisions are clouded by ulterior motives, his actions are not based exclusively in the mesorah. When one is controlled by peer pressure or his policies shaped by fear or need; this is not acting based on the mesorah. Mesorah means that one listens to one voice, and is not moved by anything else. A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss

https://files.constantcontact.com/c9410498701/6be979fc-cc51-4d92-93cf-1c25deae5440.pdf

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