December 13, 2018 ~ Shabbat VAYIGASH. Maqam BAYAT.

Shabbat Ahare Mot - שבת אחרי מות

Acceptance

וידם אהרן - In what was to be a very happy day, the inauguration of the Tabernacle turns into a catastrophe as Nadab and Abihu err in the incense offering and get consumed by a Divine fire. The loss of two sons in a single day in what appears to be an accident is enough to make most parents lose their minds and abandon faith, but this is not the case with Aharon, the High Priest. When faced with this great challenge, Aharon is courageous, and in acceptance of God's will, he remains silent (וידם אהרן). Aharon knew that all eyes were on him, and that if he were to lapse and lose self-control, this would create a ripple effect that would cause the entire nation to raise doubts about the religion. According to Rashi (1040-1105), Aharon's composure was praiseworthy and he was rewarded with receiving independent prophecy from God; as the words in Leviticus 10:8 (וידבר ה׳ אל אהרן לאמר) clearly indicate. Beth Torah, May 6, 2017.

Extremism

ואל יבא בכל עת אל הקדש - After the mysterious deaths of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron who died in service, multiple messages are offered to prevent similar tragedies from happening again. In Leviticus 16:2, Aaron is instructed "not to go at all times to the Holy" (ואל יבא בכל עת אל הקדש), meaning, Aaron's presence in the Holy of Holies (קדש קדשים) should be limited to only very specific times. A different interpretation to this verse, however, is that one should not blunder, like Nadab and Abihu, by devoting all of their time and energy into pursuits of holiness and no other endeavors. Their error of offering a foreign fire (אש זרה) may have been a desperate attempt to deceive the people into proving themselves as worthy priests. We learn from this message that as a general rule, God favors a more incremental, limited, and patient approach to holiness and not a religious approach that requires one to be too extreme in their actions. Beth Torah Bulletin, April 28, 2018.


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