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“And the Chasidah (stork).” (11:19)

It seems strange for a bird to have a name which is connected with chesed, kindness. The Talmud in Chullin 63a remarks on the bird’s name and states that, indeed, it is a bird which demonstrates kindness towards members of its own species. One may wonder why the Torah saw fit to prohibit such a “compassionate” bird from human consumption.  After all, if we are what we eat, is compassion not a character trait everyone should seek to possess ? There are a number of answers to this question.  Probably the most notable is one attributed to the Imrei Emes. …

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“Wine and strong drink you shall not drink … when you go into the Ohel Moed.” (10:9)

This halacha similarly applies to any intoxicating drink which the kohen imbibes. The punishment of death is incurred, however, only in the event the kohen drinks an intoxicating quantity, which Chazal have determined is even a reviis of undiluted wine. There is obviously no question of the kohen actually being drunk, since this small amount would not cause intoxication. There is, however, a fear that his mind will not be totally clear and tranquil. To transmit Hashem’s charge, one’s mind must be sharp, his intelligence, clear. Only then can he maintain the proper focus in order to guide and inspire…

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“Of this did Hashem speak saying: ‘I will be sanctified through those who are nearest Me, thus I will be honored before the entire people.'”(10:3)

Rashi cites Moshe’s dialogue with Aharon immediately following Nadav and Avihu’s deaths. “I knew the Mishkan would be sanctified in those whom Hashem’s glory reposes,” Moshe said to Aharon, “but I thought it would be either one of us. Now I know that they were greater than either one of us.” Indeed, Chazal view Nadav and Avihu, who met their deaths in such a tragic manner, as being great tzaddikim.  In the machzor for Yom Kippur, it is stated that one who sheds tears over the deaths of the two sons of Aharon will not see the premature demise of…

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each took his firepan … and they brought before Hashem an alien fire … and a fire went out … and consumed them and they died before Hashem.” (10:1,2)

Chazal cite a number of reasons for the terrible decree accorded to Nadav and Avihu. Undoubtedly, their sins are to be viewed as relative iniquities in accordance with the sublime level of kedushah, holiness, attained by Nadav and Avihu.  One reason presented by Chazal is difficult to accept. They state that Nadav and Avihu walked behind Moshe and Aharon and remarked, “When will these two old men (Moshe and Aharon) die, so that we can assume the mantle of leadership ?” How do we reconcile ourselves to this statement ? Are we to believe that these two spiritual giants would…

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“And Moshe and Aharon came to the Ohel Moed and they went out and they blessed the people.” (9:23)

The beginning of the parsha focuses on the events surrounding the eighth day of the Mishkan’s inauguration.  This was the day Aharon Ha’Kohen and his sons were invested into the priestly service. During the days of the inauguration, the first family of kohanim offered sacrifices in anticipation of the Shechinah “descending” to repose in the Mishkan. Rashi notes that all of Klal Yisrael assembled to witness the consecration of this holy edifice to which they had all donated generously. Yet, despite their devotion and sacrificial offerings, the Shechinah did not descend.  Moshe and Aharon entered the Mishkan to beg Hashem…

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