Points to Ponder - Shimini 5774
And it was on the eighth day (9:1) – The Midrash tells us that any time we use the word VaYehi it is a reference to a bad episode. The Midrash asks what about the eighth day in our Parsha? The Midrash answers that it too was the beginning of something bad since Nadav and Avihu died and Bnei Yisroel cried for them. Many reasons are offered as to why they died. Some say it was because they never married and others said that it was because they used to walk behind Moshe and Aharon waiting for the older leaders to pass. Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. noted that these two reasons are intertwined. They didn’t want to marry because they saw themselves as the natural successors to Moshe who separated from his wife and therefore they thought they too, should be separated. However, Judaism demands a different level from its leaders. That which is expected from Moshe is different from that expected from other leaders. Jewish leaders do not fill the shoes of their predecessors . – Their job is to walk in their footsteps.
Moshe said ‘This is the thing that Hashem commanded you to do and the honor of Hashem will appear onto you (9:6) – The Chernobler Rebbe once noted that there are many people who offer many different reasons for doing Mitzvos. They might attach Kabbalaistic intentions or healing properties to listening and performing Mitzvos. This is not the reason to do Mitzvos. The real reason to do Mitzvos is because that is what Hashem told us to do.
And Moshe told Aharon come close to the Mizbeiach (9:7) – Rashi explains that Aharon was embarrassed to step forward until Moshe cajoled him by reminding him that this was the reason he was selected. Rav Gershon Edelstein Shlita asks why knowing that he was selected for a particular mission would make it easier for him to overcome the embarrassment? He answers that it was because of his humility that he was worthy of representing the people as the Kohein Gadol. Therefore, he had no reason to be embarrassed.
And Moshe (and Aharon ) entered Ohel Moed and they left together (9:23) – Rav Eizik Ausband Shlita asks why the possuk notes that he entered -- but both left – Ohel Moed? He answers that when they went in, Aharon demonstrated respect for Moshe and deferred to him. However, upon their exit, they honored each other and left together.
Moshe called Mishael and Eltzafan (10:4) – The Yirushalmi (Nazir 7:1) says that if there is a Mes Mitzva and a Yisrael can become Tamai to deal with him, then the Levi should not. Why then would Moshe tell Mishael and Eltzafan to deal with Nadav and Avihu? Rav Avigdor Nebentzahl Shlita explains that there is a specific command incumbent upon Leviim to protect the sanctity of the Mikdash. Since the death occurred in the Mikdash it was more incumbent upon the Leviim to be involved than the Yisrael.
And Moshe heard and it was good in his eyes (10:20) – Rashi explains that he was not embarrassed to say he did not hear or heard and forgot. According to the Midrash, he even sent out a message to the entire congregation to say he was wrong. Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. notes that Moshe probably could have explained why he had been wrong. However, the justification itself would have been a perversion of the authentic Torah and this was wrong. Maran Harav Schachter shlita notes that intellectual honesty in authentic Torah presentation is crucial and one of the hallmarks of the style of HIS Rebbe, Rav Soloveitchik.
Rav Baruch Simon Shlita adds that for this reason Moshe alone was Zocheh to understand the Parah Adumah. For the entirety of the Parah Adumah process involves a stress on humility. No one could have understood this better than Moshe Rabbeinu who demonstrated humility in every fiber of his being.
And you will sanctify yourselves and you will be holy (11:44) – why is the language of Kedusha doubled here? The Koshinglover (The Eretz Tzvi) explains that according to Rav Chaim Vital ztl. there are Tzaddikim and there are Chassidim. A Tzaddik still desires earthly things but does not give in to his desire. But this is not the end of the process. Ideally one can build himself up to the point where he no longer desires the earthly things that keep one off the Torah’s path. This is the intention of the Possuk’s double language – first one sanctifies himself as a Tzaddik and then he can eventually become a Chossid whose sol desire is the will of Hashem with his whole soul.