Blog Shemini Adar II 23 5779 בלוג שְּׁמִינִי, כ”ג אדר ב’ תשע”ט
In Shemini, we arrive at the final inauguration of the Mishkan by Aaron, the Cohen Hagadol and his sons. Up to this moment, the people had all participated together, working hard to build the Mishkan, bringing all the elements needed, and now they would take their offerings to the inauguration. They were so excited because the Creator had forgiven them for their sin of the Egel Zahav, the Golden Calf. Here they witnessed the fire from God appearing in glory as they stood there in awe at this extraordinary event. Then we read in Lev.10, about the sudden and tragic death of Aaron’s two elder sons, Nadab and Abihu who had presented “eish zarah” – strange or unauthorized fire to the Boreh Olam. Our sages have all tried to explain why this happened, but I’d like to give you my perspective in a way in which we can apply this teaching to our lives today. Then we read about the “so-called” kashrut regulations or laws and question whether or not they have any relationship with what happened to Nadav and Abihu.
Religions are systems taken from portions in the Scriptures formulating rules or laws without taking into account the cultures of the people living in those times. In this modern day, there are Orthodox groups which have made various levels of kashrut, to the point of fighting amongst themselves as to who is more holy and righteous. Is this what the Creator wants for His people? In actuality, the word “kosher” does not even appear in Torah; rather it is only found in the Tanach in Esther 8:5 where it means “doing right”.
Mishlei (Proverbs) exhorts us to teach our children how to behave and that children who misbehave are a shame to their parents. The onus is not on the children but on their parents. Today we are supposedly living in the day of enlightenment and if parents discipline their children, they limit their freedom of expression. Boundaries that are meant to protect children are prohibited so that the innate “wisdom” of children can emerge. The fact is that wisdom can only come with years of experience; it is not built into children. If you do not teach your child when they are young, they will be destroyed as adults. It was too late for Nadav and Abihu. God needed to cut them off at the very beginning of the formation of this new nation because He was teaching the people the need for order and obedience to authority. Nadav and Abihu were held to a higher account due to their calling and their action of taking things into their own hands had to be stopped before this attitude spread. Sadly, today young people are being placed on a pedestal because of their technical know-how, and the wisdom of the elderly means nothing. Our youth is being deceived since wisdom can only come through experience gained over time. Very few young people respect the wisdom of the elderly. This is the basis of our Judaism. Moses chose the elders not the young to serve as judges. That is why the role of parenthood is so important. Our Creator is our heavenly Father and He wants the best for us; that is why He gave us the Ten Commandments. When we use these and learn to develop boundaries, we also develop wisdom. It is crucial to teach our children respect for parents, elders, teachers and ultimately authority. Today we have lost our moral compass learned from Torah resulting in an abundance of prisons.
What does Nadav and Abihu and the kosher regulations or laws have to do with this?
I call it “pollution”. We live in a polluted world. The kosher laws were given to Israel mainly to set them apart from the rest of humanity. It has nothing to do with health or the proper way to eat. For eg. Devarim 14: 21 states:” You shall not eat of anything that dies a natural death; you may give it to the stranger that is within your gates, that he may eat it; or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the LORD your God.” Do we have such an evil god who wants to kill the rest of humanity? Of course not! The word “holy” means to be separated for something. That’s what this Book of Leviticus is teaching us. When we have been set apart (separated) for something, we set the example, and this makes us responsible.
The food that we truly need is the food which feeds our soul; it makes us dependent upon our Creator. That differentiates us from others. Today we live in a world of spiritual pollution. The world accepts the brainwashing that it is better for men to be with men and woman to be with woman and even those who are supposed to follow the Torah accept that this is right – “kosher”! They say, what’s wrong if people love each other? We have accepted that it is right to kill the unborn because the woman has the right over her own body! Are we kosher? The kashrut was meant to avoid the pollution of your soul. If we have been called by the Creator to be in relationship with our neighbor, we need to eliminate all hatred amongst ourselves or acting holier than thou, rather we need to be humbled in the Presence of the Creator. The true kosher of today is the moral values of the Torah. The foods that are an abomination are the spiritual attitudes that are totally contrary to the Scriptures. Rabbi Yeshua, told us “do not worry about what you eat because it goes into the latrine; worry about what comes out of your mouth (heart).” That is what pollutes us.
This is what this portion is teaching us today. Food that is prohibited represents the pollution of this world in which we are being forced to be socially, politically and theologically correct. Truth is being muzzled. Nadav and Abihu shows us that the problem stems from adults who are being been coerced into these oppressive systems and we remain silent because we don’t want to rock the boat. If we remain silent, we are part of the problem. Are you willing to stand up for what you believe, or do you come here to be part of a once-a week social club? Are you looking to be popular or do you want to be right (kosher) with the Creator who is with us every moment of our lives?