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ויאמר משה אל אהרן הוא אשר דבר ד' לאמר בקרובי אקדש ועל פני כל העם אכבד וידם אהרן

Moshe said to Aharon: Of this did Hashem speak, saying, “I will be sanctified through those who are close to Me, and I will be honored before the entire people;” and Aharon fell silent. (10:3)

The last two words of the above pasuk, Va’yidom Aharon, “And Aharon fell silent,” are, to me, among the most frightening – yet awe-inspiring – words in the Torah. The ability to transcend emotion, to experience tragedy on what should have been the happiest and most spiritually-elevating day of Aharon’s life, is truly inspirational. Aharon HaKohen had worked his entire life to achieve this moment, to be crowned as the Kohen Gadol, High Priest. His response to the mind-numbing tragedy was the true indication of his worthiness of this exalted position. How are we to come to terms with Aharon’s…

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ויקחו בני אהרן נדב ואביהוא איש מחתתו ויתנו בהן אש וישימו עליה קטורת ויקריבו לפני ד' אש זרה אשר לא צוה ד'

And the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan, they put fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before Hashem an alien fire that Hashem had not commanded them. (10:1)

It all boils down to the last four words: Asher lo tzivah Hashem, “That Hashem had not commanded them.” The best laid intentions are of little value if they go against someone’s wishes. In his Sefer Nitzotzos, Horav Yitzchak Hershkovitz, Shlita, gives a practical analogy. Reuven had a good friend, Shimon, whom he had invited to stay at his house whenever he was in the area. Shimon was a welcome guest who would not over-extend his welcome. He would come for a few days, enjoy, and leave. Reuven felt very comfortable inviting Shimon to stay as long as necessary –…

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ויקריבו לפני ד' אש זרה אשר לא צוה אתם

And they offered an alien fire before G-d which He had not commanded them. (10:1)

Emotions motivate a person to scale the highest elevations. When a person is positively motivated; when he is inspired to do good, he can achieve success in what otherwise would be considered a difficult task. Positive emotion catalyzes greatness. There is, however, one caveat: the emotion must be harnessed and focused. To live on emotion alone, without direction and discipline, invites dangerous consequences. A student in a yeshivah was extremely devoted to his spiritual development. A sincere and seriously motivated young man, he would spend twenty minutes in deep devotion as he recited Shemoneh Esrai. Thursday night mishmor, when other…

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ויבא משה ואהרן אל אהל מועד ויצאו ויברכו את העם וירא כבוד ד' אל כל העם

Moshe and Aharon came to the Ohel Moed, and they went out and blessed the people – and the glory of Hashem appeared to the entire people. (9:23)

Rashi describes what occurred behind the scenes which necessitated the entry of Moshe Rabbeinu into the Ohel Moed together with Aharon HaKohen. When Aharon saw that all of the offerings had been brought and all of the service in the Mishkan had been performed, he was greatly concerned. The Shechinah had not descended to Klal Yisrael. In his great humility, Aharon blamed himself: “I know that Hashem has become angry with me, and it is because of me that the Shechinah has not descended to the nation.” Aharon approached his brother and said, “Moshe, thus you have done to me;…

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