These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on April 20, 2012 by Barer

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This week’s double parsha is some of the densest and hardest-to-apply material in the Torah, in dealing with seemingly endless details of various bodily ailments and skin maladies.  In trying to find a window into some of the meaning that these chapters might hold for us today, I think it might be helpful to consider that these laws seem out of place, as immediately following these parshiyot the text returns to the story at hand, namely the death of two of Aharon’s sons (detailed originally in 10:1-3).  So why are these laws placed here, right after Aharon has tragically lost two of those closest to him?  The Rashbam, in trying to explain why Nadav and Avihu were killed for offering fire before Hashem on the day of consecrating the Mishkan (Tabernacle), says that it is because they spoiled the special nature of the miracle that was to be shown to the Israelites that day.  Hashem ordered Moshe as He did so that all of the Israelites could know without a doubt that the fire that consumed the sacrifices offered on that first day of Mishkan service came from Hashem, unlike every other day of sacrificial service where a priest did offer the fire.  It was not that Hashem was specifically against a creative offering in the temple (at least, it is not clear that Hashem would be against such an offering from this section), but rather that by offering fire, Aharon’s sons made this first day of service in the Mishkan just like every other.  So are these laws meant as a reprieve for Aharon, as a way of grieving while still actively dealing with the laws, if only in a routinized fashion (and the parshiyot do tend to induce a certain repetitive numbness)?  Are they meant to imply that the Rashbam is wrong, and that the sons of Aharon were in fact impure in one of the ways detailed here, and were killed because they came before Hashem in an impure state?

Why break away from

Aharon’s grieving process

To speak of disease?