“And Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his pan, put fire into them and placed incense upon it, and they brought near before
G-dstrange fire which He had not commanded them.” (Vayikra 10:1)
On the day the Mishkan was consecrated, Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, were punished for bringing an offering, a “strange fire,” which was not commanded. Although their intention was praiseworthy, indeed the Mishkan is considered sanctified by the death of these “close ones of
The text is full of clues. They are introduced not by name, but as “the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu.” Even though they were the sons of Aharon, they did not consult with their father. Or, as the celebrated sons of Aharon, they felt they were under no obligation to seek advice from their father, or anyone else. Indeed, “each man took his pan,” indicating that each one acted on his own initiative and did not even consult one another.
Their offering was motivated by the great joy in witnessing the fire descending to the Mishkan; they were inspired, responding with love. (Torat Kohanim) The problem lies in the fact that the entire nation witnessed this glorious revelation of
The root of korban is karev, to bring near. But such nearness may be sought and earned only by way of acceptance of and obedience to His commandments. This is the lesson that the nation learned on the first day of the Sanctuary service and it is the lesson that informs our service today.
- Sources: Commentary, Vayikra 10:1