Since the 23rd of Adar, the construction of the Mishkan has been completed. Moshe spent 7 days putting up the Mishkan, doing the Avodah (service) and taking it apart. Now it’s the 8th day- Rosh Chodesh Nissan, and it’s time for Aharon and his sons to do the service themselves. Aharon was very humble and was hesitant to assume the position of Kohain Gadol, remembering his involvement with the Eigel HaZahav. Really, this Middah of humility (Anava) is what makes Aharon worthy of being the Kohain Gadol.
Be humble! We’ve all done mistakes. Don’t be so quick to assume greatness above others. You had your share of mess-ups. If you are aware of your faults and inadequacies, you are a prime candidate to be a leader.
A young Talmid Chacham came to the Chofetz Chaim with his problem; “I was asked to be a Rav (Rabbi) in a town. I don’t want to have that kind of responsibility on my head. I’m afraid someone will come to me with a Halachic question and I might give him the wrong answer.” The Chofetz Chaim turned to the man and said, ”Well who should be their Rav, someone who isn't afraid giving the wrong answer???”

Aharon brings a young bull as his sacrifice to be forgiven for his involvement with the Eigel HaZahav (even though his intentions were for the good). B’nei Yisroel sacrificed a goat, to be forgiven for the selling of Yosef (and dipping his cloak in the blood of a goat). After Aharon performed the sacrifices, he joyously blessed B’nei Yisroel. He said the "Birchat Kohanim" (Blessing of the Kohanim) - for the first time. Aharon had such an overwhelming love for B’nei Yisroel, as shown by his desire to bless them, that he and his descendants were given that Mitzvah.
Love Jews! Don’t speak against Jews. Let’s follow the example of Aharon HaKohain. Bless the Jewish people.

The sacrifices were brought, but Hashem didn’t reveal His glory to B’nei Yisroel. Aharon HaKohain assumed it was because he wasn’t forgiven for the sin of the Eigel HaZahav. Moshe Rabbeinu saw his brother’s sadness, so he took him in the Mishkan and Davened to Hashem for mercy.
When all else fails, DAVEN!!! In any language you feel comfortable in, speak and cry to Hashem about any of your problems!!! O.K. Let’s see if it worked... Fire immediately came down from the sky and came upon the Olah sacrifices laying on the Mizbayach. It lasted 116 years and was called the Aish Tomid - the eternal fire. Hashem’s glory appeared before the entire nation. There was tremendous rejoicing. The nation bowed down in awe to the glory of Hashem. The joy permeated the entire world! Even the heavens rejoiced!
Now let’s look at the story of the death of the 2 sons of Aharon. There are many Aveirot (sins) that the Chachomim say Nadav and Avihu did. Let’s not forget that these were tremendous Tzaddikim.

1- They didn't marry. They felt that they were at least on the level that one reaches by being married.
LESSON 1- We shouldn’t put ourselves above the Torah laws, thinking we can be just as good doing our “own thing.”
2- They ruled a Halachic ruling in the presence of their teacher Moshe Rabbeinu.
LESSON 2- Don’t be your own “Poseik” (Halachic Authority). Humble yourself to those who know more than you.
3- They followed Moshe Rabbeinu and their father Aharon, wondering how long it would be before their uncle and father depart and leave over the honors for them to take over.
LESSON 3- Don’t desire the positions of others.
4- They brought a fire to Hashem that they weren't commanded to bring.
LESSON 4- Hashem wants you to follow His word. Don’t do what’s not asked of you.
5- They did the service of Hashem after drinking wine.
LESSON 5- serve G-D respectfully. Take it seriously.
6- They wanted to burn the Ketoret to become rich.
LESSON 6- Serve Hashem for the right reasons, not to get benefits in this world.


After they brought their “strange fire” to Hashem, 4 streams of fire came down, traveling into their nostrils and consuming the insides of their bodies. Mishael and Eltzafen, Aharon’s cousins, carried out the dead bodies.

Moshe Rabbeinu told his brother Aharon, “Hashem said, 'through those who are nearest to me, I will be sanctified, so I will be honored before the entire people'.” Aharon was silent. He held back his deep grief for the passing of his 2 righteous sons. The remaining 2 brothers, (Elazar and Itamar) weren’t allowed to mourn their brother’s tragic fate, lest they take away from the joy of the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Interesting Insight:
Emotions we have, are very real to us. Hashem wants us to feel them, for this is healthy and who we are. Though, at certain times we see great Tzaddikim control their response to their feelings. This isn’t a lack of feeling, but rather an unquestioning silence.
The "Chiddushei HaRim” (first Gerrer Rebbe) tragically lost his young son immediately before Shabbos. The family didn’t want to ruin the Rebbe’s Shabbos, so decided not to tell him until after Shabbos. One Chossid of the Rebbe, didn’t know that the Chiddushei HaRim hadn’t learned of his son’s death. He told the Rebbe that he was sorry to hear the terrible news about the Rebbe’s son. The onlookers were mortified to hear his words, but the Rebbe just said, ”Nu, Shabbos, Shabbos.” Shabbos continued as usual.. The Chiddushei HaRim sang with the same joy as always. He danced with the same joy as always. People thought that perhaps he didn’t hear the news of his son. The second after Havdola was over, he cried out a loud and mournful cry. He spent the “Shiv’ah” crying over his great loss. He felt the loss, but kept silent over Shabbos, not loosing sight of the holy joyful day.

After this tragedy, Hashem warns the Kohanim of the possible dangers of inappropriate behavior, and commands them not to drink wine before performing the Avodah - service in the Bait HaMikdash (& Mishkan).


1) Animals that have their hooves completely split at the bottom of their foot.
2) Animals that chew their cud. This means, they chew their food a second time before it goes down to digest.
KOSHER FISH HAVE FINS & SCALES (not the thing you weigh yourself on).
There are 20 birds mentioned in the Torah that are non-kosher. Any other birds which the Torah doesn't name, we need a tradition (nothing to do with soup) that it’s kosher. Also, birds of prey (nothing to do with what we do 3 times a day) are non- kosher. Kosher birds also have a toe in the back of their feet.
Hashem cares for our souls as well as our bodies. It’s more important to be spiritually healthy than physically healthy.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. The food we eat becomes our flesh. It’s crucial that we eat the special food that was given to the special nation to eat. The food we eat, effects our souls, which in turn effects our personality.

The son of the Dayan (judge in Bait Din) of "Posen" was unable to learn. They tried everything, but there was something wrong with him. The Dayan was desperate and didn’t know where to turn next. He visited their town Rav, who was the torah genius of the generation, rabbi Akiva Eiger. The "Gadol HaDor" looked at the boy and told his father, the Dayan; “He must have eaten forbidden food that has caused him to be unable to learn Torah. The Dayan answered, “Well that’s impossible, we fed him only from our local “Shocheit” (butcher\slaughterer) and the food from our very house.”

They asked the child who admitted that once he and his friend passed a wedding and were given some leftover meat. The Dayan, along with rabbi Akiva Eiger, looked into the matter further and found out something astonishing! Many years back, the bride of that wedding was married to her first husband and later given a 'get' (contract of divorce) by her him. The "Ba'al HaTanya" (first Lubavitcher Rebbe) declared it invalid. Others maintained it was a good get, but the Ba'al HaTanya insisted it wasn’t. He declared, “ If this women gets married again, it is invalid and the food at that wedding will be considered Traif (unkosher)!!”

This amazing story shows us,

  1. - How great Rabbi Akiva Eiger was to sense that this boy was affected by non Kosher food.
  2. - The terrible effect non Kosher food has on our holy souls.
  3. - How great and powerful are the words of Tzaddikim, that a mere declaration by the holy Tzaddik, the Baal HaTanya, made the food prohibited to eat.
It's amazing to think that there are people in the world today who question whether the Torah is really given by Hashem. When we look at this Parsha, we read that there are 3 animals mentioned which chew their cud, but don't have split hooves (i.e. the camel). Also, there is one animal which the Torah names as having split hooves, but doesn't chew its cud, the pig. Imagine if someone wrote the Torah- is there anyone who can so boldly list the 'exceptional' animals, without being afraid that maybe, by some far out chance there might be another type of animal in the world which also has one kosher sign but not another? Only the Creator of heaven and earth can write that these are the only exceptions, no more, no less! regarding the fish, the Mishna writes that any fish that has scales, will also have fins. There are fish with fins and no scales. This is also amazing, that the Mishna was able to state a fact about every fish which exists it the world.
The kosher animals, fish and birds are the more tamed and “kinder” ones. The birds that attack animals, (i.e. vulture) are prohibited. One bird that I can’t figure out why it’s not kosher is the stork. The name of the stork is the "Chassidah." The Gomorrah tells us the reason it has such a beautiful name: that is, it does Chessed with its friend. A-hah! So it should be kosher!! Right? Wrong!!
Chessed is not to help just those who are your friends. Chessed means to help those people who aren’t necessary close to you (Tzeddaka though is given first to your family and neighbors).
The kosher animals are pure, for they are less connected to earthliness. How is this so? The split hooves hints to the idea that the animal is not completely attached to the earth. There is a part of the foot that’s raised up. The chewing of the cud hints to the idea of the animal not putting the food in too fast. The eating seems to be more “thought out.”

Let’s be careful to check that there is a reliable “Hashgacha” on the food that goes into our mouths. Of course, Hashem wants us also to guard what comes out of our mouths, so let’s follow the example of Aharon who blessed the Jewish people. Hashem should see how we care and protect us from eating that which is improper and saying that which is improper.

© 1998 by R' Matis Friedman, H.A.F.T.R.
R' Matis Friedman's email address is shprophets@aol.com

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