Proximity to holiness requires utmost caution

These limitations will at times mandate distance from God’s presence, which ultimately should create yearning for the states of purity.

By NECHAMA GOLDMAN BARASH
April 5, 2018 16:22
NADAB AND ABIHU die before the Lord

NADAB AND ABIHU die before the Lord. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This week’s Torah portion presents the shocking death of Nadab and Abihu. God consumes the two sons of Aaron as He consumed the burnt offerings given on the eighth day. Rashi explains that the same fire that consumed the burnt offerings and fat parts on the outer altar started in the Holy of Holies to burn the incense and consumed Nadab and Abihu before traveling to the outer altar to consume the offerings.

Many explanations have been given – both critical and non-critical – as to why the two died. It is the midrashic explanation of the Sifra on Shmini that I feel most beautifully explains the story.

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