Friday, March 28, 2008

Parshas Shemini - "It Can't Hurt To Take A Closer Look"

Vayikra 11:4 “But this is what you shall not eat form among those that bring their cud or that have split hooves: the camel , for it brings up its cud, but its hoof is not split – it is clean to you;”

The famous Rav Yeruchem of the Mir Yeshiva says that one should not think that the signs of a kosher and non-kosher animal are arbitrary or that they are merely external. The fact that the animal is not kosher, that itself CAUSES the external signs to be present. The fact that an animal is not kosher, that itself is the cause of the signs. And, we see that if even one non-kosher sign is present, even though in its other signs the animal seems to be kosher, the animal is NOT kosher. Says Rav Yeruchem: wherever there is lack of purity, you will see the signs! Whenever something not kosher is present, even in only one small aspect, you will see the signs!

*From Rav Asher Balanson Shlit”a (Also can be found on

Vayikra 10:6 “… your brethren the entire House of Israel shall bewail the fire that Hashem ignited”

In his hesped for the Vilna Gaon, Rav Binyamin Wolf Lau explained the above pasuk by first explaining another pasuk from Parsha Ekev (Devarim 8:5) “…Just as a father will chastise his son, so Hashem, your G-d, chastises you.” The meforshim on this pasuk explain that it is the nature of a father not to have his child punished by someone else (lest he overpunish him and hurt his dear child). Therefore the father insists that he be the one who punishes his child.

We see this same thing by the death of wicked people, which is carried out by the malach hamaves (angel of death) who is a messenger. By the death of tzaddikim however, their deaths are carried out by Hakadosh Baruch Hu himself. We see this very clearly from the death of Moshe Rabbeinu who died with a kiss.

Hopefully we can now somewhat get a picture of what types of people Nadav and Avihu were. They were so great that the entire nation of Israel broke out into tears over the “burning that Hashem burnt”. This means to say that Nadav and Avihu were of such a high stature that their father, hakadosh Baruch hu wanted to deliver their deaths himself. This was a direct sign for all of Klal Yisrael that although they had brought a ‘foreign fire’, they were still nevertheless still held in the highest regard by Hashem. Which is why Moshe told Aron, “They are greater than both you and I.”

Sometimes we are too quick to judge, we look at people like Nadav and Avihu and we assume that because they went against the rules and were punished for them, they must be bad people (like the miraglim). After flipping around the situation and looking at it from a different perspective it turns out that these people were holier than the average man, and thus deserve recognition for their avoda.

It can’t hurt to take another look…


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