This Week’s Torah Portion, Sh’mini – The deaths of two of Aaron’s sons

April 13, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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This Week’s Torah Portion, Sh’mini – The deaths of two of Aaron’s sons

Good afternoon,

I hope you are enjoying the wonderful weather today! Please enjoy my thoughts on this week’s Torah portion, Sh’mini.

This week we read the account in the Torah of the deaths of two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu.  We are told that “they brought before the Lord foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.” (Lev. 9:1) In the very next verse, we read, “And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” Lev. 9:2.  The question we are left with is: why did God kill Nadav and Avihu? What was their great crime?

Rashi brings two possible reasons for their deaths, attributed to Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Ishmael respectively.  Nadav and Avihu were punished because they rendered halachic decisions in the presence of Moses, their teacher or because they had entered the sanctuary after having drunk wine.

While our  Sages have puzzled over this scene for millennia, all we are left with is the response of  Aaron, their father – silence. What does it mean that Aaron was silent in the face of the death of his two eldest sons?

This week we observed Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust remembrance day.  In Israel, a siren rings throughout every city and on every radio station.  People everywhere come out into the streets to remember those who perished and honor those who survived.  People driving on the streets and highways stop. They step out of their cars and bear witness – in silence.

In the face of tragedy, there are no right words, there is nothing to say but to bear witness to the atrocity. It is only after a period of intense mourning, of silently remembering, do we rise up and resolve to make our world a place where genocide will never happen again.

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Shabbat Services, Friday, April 13    8 p.m.

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Shabbat Services, Saturday, April 14   10 a.m.


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Shabbat Dinner Potluck on April 20

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal