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    The strange fire of Aaron’s sons – Acharei Mot

    Nadab and Abihu destroyed by fire, by Matthäus Merian, c. 1625

    Aaron’s sons were struck dead because they brought “strange fire” to the altar.

    Most people read the story to the discredit of the two sons but there is a way of explaining it in a positive sense – they didn’t wish to defy God but they wanted to show their love for Him.

    This is what is implied in an old Targum that says they were so suffused with love of God that they brought an additional sacrifice to the altar.

    Their sin was to imply that there was something lacking in the Torah, that the Torah did not go far enough when it prescribed the way in which one should serve the Creator.

    Being Aaron’s sons, public figures, leadership figures, they should not have given the impression that theirs was a valid example for people to follow.

    In our generation there are people who undertake extra stringencies but they should never let themselves be perceived as better or holier than the rest of us.

    The Torah doesn’t say that any Jew should seem to be showing off how really froom they are, implying that the regular pattern of Torah Judaism has something missing.

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