This dvar Torah was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: #1245 – The Latest Kashrus Problem: Orange Juice. Good Shabbos!
This week’s parsha contains the tragic story of the death of Nadav and Avihu, the two eldest sons of Aharon HaKohen: “The sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan, they put fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before Hashem an alien fire that He had not commanded them. A fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem. Moshe said to Aharon, of this did Hashem speak, saying: “I will be sanctified through those who are nearest Me, thus I will be honored before the entire people’; and Aharon was silent.” (Vayikra 10:1-3).
In reaction to these events, Aharon did not express any of the natural grief that he certainly felt, but rather he remained silent. The Torah then records Moshe’s command to Aharon and his remaining two sons: “Do not leave your heads unshorn and do not rend your garments, that you not die and He become wrathful with the entire assembly; and your brethren the entire House of Israel shall bewail the conflagration that Hashem ignited.” (Vaykira 10:6)
I would like to quote an insight on this parsha that I saw in the sefer Zevech Mishpacha sent to me by my fifth grade Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Zvi Hollander (1927-2021), containing some of his Chumash insights. Rav Hollander, zt”l, was active into his nineties as a Rebbe in Beis Yisrael in Neve Yaakov in Eretz Yisrael. I want to share his observation about this incident.
After the Holocaust, there were Jews who felt there was no reason to go on. They felt there was no point to live any longer and there was certainly no point to being a Jew any longer. Rabbi Hollander quotes a Rav who came to these people who lost all hope to live and certainly to maintain their Yiddishkeit. The Rav told them over a Rashbam from this week’s parsha.
Moshe said, “This is what Hashem spoke when saying ‘through those who are near to Me I will be sanctified’ (B’Krovai E’Kadesh)” Rashi interprets the words to mean that Moshe told Aharon, “Aharon, I knew that the Mishkan was going to be sanctified by the death of those close to the Omnipresent (Kedoshim), but I thought it was going to be through you or me. I now see that your two sons were greater than either of us.” Thus, according to Rashi, B’Krovai E’Kadesh was referring to Nadav and Avihu.
The Rashbam has a totally different interpretation of those words. According to the Rashbam, B’Krovai E’Kadesh is NOT referring to Nadav and Avihu.
It had been Aharon’s inclination, as a result of this tragic incident, to abstain from doing the Avodah (Priestly Service). His reaction was, “I can’t do the Avodah under these circumstances. I just lost my two sons!” Moshe thus instructed him otherwise: “I am telling you, Aharon, that the Ribono shel Olam wants you to continue doing the Avodah. B’Krovai E’Kadesh means through those High Priests who are close to Me I wish to be sanctified. “I want you to complete the Avodah because that will be a tremendous Kiddush Hashem. The mere fact that you are capable of putting away your own personal tragedy and continue engaging in the Divine Service of Hashem is itself the greatest sanctification of My Name. Through you and your remaining sons not letting your personal grief take over, and continuing to do the Avodah – that itself is the referenced manifestation of B’Krovai E’Kadesh (through those close to Me I will be sanctified).”
The Rashbam explains the next words of the pasuk “v’Al pnei kol ha’Am E’Kaved” that when someone, lo aleynu, sees his children die and nonetheless he submerges his mourning in his service of the Creator, it is the Glory of the Shechina (Divine Presence). It is the greatest Kiddush Hashem, the greatest Kavod Shechina that human beings are capable of putting aside their own personal grief and continuing to perform the Avodas Hashem.
This is what that Rav told those Holocaust survivors. He directed those Jews who did not want to go on, and who did not want to continue with their Yiddishkeit, to this Rashbam. There is no greater Sanctification of G-d’s Name than for people who have gone through what they had been through, and to continue to be Servants of Hashem.
It is easy to “talk the talk.” It is another thing to “walk the walk.” But there are thousands of Yidden, that despite what they went through – and the horrible things that they experienced – who nevertheless did not lose their Emunah and continued to be Ovdei Hashem. That is a replication of what Aharon haKohen and his remaining sons did. In spite of their terrible tragedy, they were able to go on with their Avodas Hashem. That was the classic example of B’Krovai E’Kadesh. The term Krovai (those near to Me) refers not to Nadav and Avihu, but rather to Aharon, Elazar, and Isamar, who continued on with their Avodas Hashem after the tragic loss of their sons and brothers.
Transcribed by David Twersky; Jerusalem [email protected]
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Baltimore, MD [email protected]
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Series on the weekly Torah portion. A listing of the halachic portions for Parshas Shmini is provided below:
- # 005 – Medicines Containing Chometz
- # 050 – The Tuna Fish Controversy
- # 093 – Melacha Before Havdalah
- # 141 – Using a Mikveh for Non-Orthodox Conversions
- # 188 – Netilas Yadayim for Bread and Fruit
- # 234 – Netilas Yadayim at Breakfast: Is One “Washed Up” for the Day?
- # 278 – Netilas Yadayim and Chatzizah
- # 324 – Sefiras Ha’omer
- # 368 – Don’t Drink and Daven
- # 412 – Minhagim of the Days of Sefira
- # 456 – Gelatin: Is It Kosher?
- # 500 – Is Turkey Kosher?
- # 544 – Bedikas Chametz
- # 588 – The Aveil and the Haircut
- # 632 – Baal Teshaktzu – Abstaining From Unpleasant Behaviour
- # 676 – Buffalo, Giraffe, and other Exotic Animals — Are they Kosher?
- # 720 – A Guf Naki for Davening
- # 764 – Loaig Le’rosh – Respecting the Dead
- # 808 – New York City – Don’t Drink the Water?
- # 852 – Four Questions You Probably Never Asked
- # 896 – Women & Havdalah – Second Thoughts
- # 941 – Mayim Acharonim: Is It Necessary?
- # 983 – Pesach – Thoughts on the Hagaddah – Vol. II
- #1027 – Giving Shalom/Saying Hello To A Person in Aveilus
- #1072 – The Fly That Fell Into The Soup
- #1114 – Can You Change Your Minhag of When To Keep Sefira?
- #1200 – Bugs in the Soup – What Should You Do?
- #1245 – The Latest Kashrus Problem: Orange Juice
- #1287 – Oops! I Spoke After Netilas Yadayim – Now What?
- #1332 – Dunking Your Doughnuts in Coffee – Must You Wash Netilas Yadayim?
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