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Weekly Dvar Torah Draft: Shmini

Yavneh
Posts: 54
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3/30/2016 11:41:35 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
Bs"D

This week"s Torah portion is Parshat Shemini, Leviticus 9:1 to 11:47. The portion begins at the end of the Yemei HaMiluim, the days of priestly training, for Aaron and his sons. After a week of practice, Moses commands Aaron that, to bring the Divine Presence into the people"s "sight" (ie. perception), he must perform a set of personal and communal sacrifices. Aaron duly performs the service, and, along with Moses, he blesses the people. Immediately, a fire comes down from above and devours the sacrifice, before all the people.

It is at this exact moment, a moment of such triumph for the Jewish people, that tragedy strikes. Nadav and Avihu, the two elder sons of Aaron, take a firepan each and bring a 'strange fire', unauthorized by G-d. In the same fashion that a heavenly fire descended upon the offerings, a heavenly fire descends upon Nadav and Avihu and consumes them.

What is the identity of this 'strange fire'? The intuitive answer, that the offering was faulty or illicit, does not fit with the beginning of the verse, which states that the pair brought incense-- a sanctioned sacrifice-- before G-d. Given this, what is the problem?

Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, an 11th century French Rabbi universally regarded as the greatest of the Torah commentators, brings down the debate recorded in Vayikra Rabba (late antiquity): Rabbi Elazar states that their sin was disrespect, as they issuing halachic (legal) rulings in front of Moses and Aaron, while Rabbi Yishmael contends that they were intoxicated while offering their sacrifice.

Common to both opinions is the idea that the fault is on the person, rather than the object-- in talmudic terms, the gavra rather than the cheftza. Even a perfect, unflawed sacrifice can be repulsive to G-d, if the offerer is repulsive. The fire is not intrinsically "strange", or more accurately (translation-wise) "foreign", but rather it is the attitude of Nadav and Avihu, the disrespect and disregard for others" honor, that disqualifies their sacrifice.

In this vein, the Mishnah, in Menachot 13:11, states: "It is the same whether one offers much or little, so long as he directs his heart to heaven." The object is less important than it"s giver; in essence, it is the thought that counts.

--This just needs a conclusion.
"Imagine a person who comes in here tonight and argues "air isn't true" but continues to breathe it while he argues. In their daily lives, Atheists continue to breathe-- they take medicine, fly on planes, watch TV, use computers and the Internet for communication and countless tasks, electrical lights when it's dark... all these are made possible by G-d's creations, and would not be possible via the Atheist worldview. They are breathing G-d's air all the time they argue against Him." -- Fly/Me
Rami
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3/31/2016 9:01:21 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
Want to include something about how they were drunk? Interesting to point out when you're doing something for the sake of Shamiyim, like David Hamelech, when he danced in front of the Aron, when it was being return, or belittiling the honor of holy things, like this chase.
Yavneh
Posts: 54
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3/31/2016 10:46:07 PM
Posted: 8 months ago
HaRav HaRamiBami, I mentioned the opinion of R' Yishmael-- that they were intoxicated (drunk). As for the David connection, add it in as you see fit.
"Imagine a person who comes in here tonight and argues "air isn't true" but continues to breathe it while he argues. In their daily lives, Atheists continue to breathe-- they take medicine, fly on planes, watch TV, use computers and the Internet for communication and countless tasks, electrical lights when it's dark... all these are made possible by G-d's creations, and would not be possible via the Atheist worldview. They are breathing G-d's air all the time they argue against Him." -- Fly/Me
Yavneh
Posts: 54
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4/1/2016 1:40:43 AM
Posted: 8 months ago
Anyone want to receive this in their DDO inbox?
"Imagine a person who comes in here tonight and argues "air isn't true" but continues to breathe it while he argues. In their daily lives, Atheists continue to breathe-- they take medicine, fly on planes, watch TV, use computers and the Internet for communication and countless tasks, electrical lights when it's dark... all these are made possible by G-d's creations, and would not be possible via the Atheist worldview. They are breathing G-d's air all the time they argue against Him." -- Fly/Me