Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shemini

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

This week's parsha recounts the tragic story of the death of two of Aharon's sons (Nadav & Avihu) after they brought an "aish zara" in the Mishkan. R' Frand quoted many interpretations as to what they did wrong: (1) They decided a halachic question with their teachers (Moshe & Aharon) present: (2) They were already judged as worthy of death for improper actions at Mt Sinai, but Hashem did not want to impact on the simcha and waited until now; (3) They never got married and could not keep the mitzva to be fruitful; (4) They awaited Moshe & Aharon's death so that they could be the leaders.

R' Frand asked - why is there rampant speculation as to what Nadav and Avihu did wrong? The Torah tells us that it was because they brought the aish zarah, so why not just accept that reason?

R' Frand answered by quoting R' Yaakov Kaminetzky in his sefer Emes L'Yaakov. R' Yaakov suggests that from the fact that we see that they brought the karban without asking Moshe and Aharon what to do, we see the source for the first answer above. R' Frand said that if he were daven in R' Elyashiv's shul and someone were to come and ask him a halachic question and he were to answer, he would be not showing proper respect for the Rav.

But why is it that they did not ask Moshe & Aharon? R' Kaminetsky states that it is because they thought that they could do a better job than Moshe & Aharon - Moshe was not good enough in their eyes. This links to the fourth answer listed above. It also is a derivative of their ga'avah about their own worth.

R' Yaakov states that this also can be seen in the third answer. The gemara discusses an Amora who never got married because he said that his soul was tied to the Torah. This was frowned upon, because there is an obligation to get married and be fruitful. However, Nadav and Avihu thought that they were better than everyone else and did not need to get married. This was yet another reason which derives from the central point that their ga'avah was the reason they were punished.

R' Yaakov explains that each person has a central source for his sins and all of his improper actions come from this, like a string which emanates from the source. This is why chazal say their different reasons - they are all variations on the same theme.

R' Frand also quoted a different answer to the question from a sefer Chiddushei R' Yosef Nechemiah Kornitzer (sp?) who was a great grandson of the Chassam Sofer. He wrote on the pasuk "B'krovi Ekadesh" (Vayikra 10:3) that they did not ask Moshe because he was their uncle. To them, Moshe was Uncle Moshe first and the Gadol Hador second. They felt an intimacy with him and did not give him the deference that he was required. However, it really must be the reverse. If family members do not have respect for the man, how can a stranger?

He then quoted his great grandfather, the Chassam Sofer who (utilizing a play on words) writes that Moshe should have had respect from his krovim (relatives) and since he did not receive it, he did not get it from the nation as well.

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