Is each of us really born with a mission in life?
Do we all have secret individual goals that G-d created us to achieve, which we are supposed to spend our lives seeking out and uncovering and fulfilling?
Do we all understand that these are rhetorical questions?
Documented in our parsha is one of the greatest tragedies in our entire Torah: the death of Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu. Nadav and Avihu were the most righteous and learned sages of their generation. They were being groomed to take over the leadership of the Jewish people from Moshe and Aaron. On the eighth and final day of the inauguration of the Tabernacle, Aaron was commanded to offer a series of special sacrifices with the assistance of his sons. After the offerings were completed, Aaron and Moshe blessed the nation.
Suddenly, a fire descended from the heavens, consuming the offerings and awing the nation. Amidst the excitement, Nadav and Avihu decided to bring additional incense offerings that were not commanded. Their innovation was based upon their profound understanding of Kaballa, calculating that their fragrant favors could further the bond between G-d and Israel.
Just as suddenly, another fire descended from the heavens, this time consuming Nadav and Avihu. G-d took the souls of these two sages as if they too were an offering—an offering demonstrating the gravity of G-d’s Law. Even the minor infractions of the righteous are considered serious in G-d’s eyes. Torah scholars are not exempted from the laws that govern the common man. Indeed, G-d expects more from those closest to Him. This was the lesson G-d taught at the beginning of our nationhood through Nadav and Avihu. These great sages were chosen to become the most powerful examples of the depth of G-d’s judgment and the extent of our accountability for our actions.
It is difficult to accept such a loss. Almost impossible. The Torah records that Aharon, their father, was silent (Leviticus 10:3). There was nothing for a father to say. No complaints and no questions. Aharon appreciated that G-d’s judgment is beyond our own. G-d has a plan for bringing the universe to its greatest possible perfection, for the benefit of every soul ever created. All of our lives are guided to fit into this plan.
Nadav and Avihu occupied a special place in G-d’s plan. They possessed incredible potential; more than almost anyone in history. That potential could have been expressed in a number of ways, depending on the choices they made. Nadav and Avihu could have succeeded their great father and uncle in the leadership of the Jewish people. But they were on a fast track, where a minor slip could spell major disaster. Low speed lapses often cause fender benders, but miscalculating at high speed can lead to tragedy. Nadav and Avihu were racing towards the top. They were trying to bring the Jewish people closer to the Divine sooner than G-d’s plan directed. In the end, their potential was expressed in the great lesson that their tragic deaths taught the world: we are accountable for our actions, and the greater the individual, the stricter the accountability. (With great power, comes great responsibility, to quote Spiderman.)
We all have great responsibilities—our own responsibilities. They are the mission that G-d assigned us in life. Each of us possesses a unique potential to contribute to the world and as long as we feel we have more potential to give there is still have more of our mission left to complete. May we all merit discovering the individual goals G-d has set for us and uncovering them and fulfilling them. Then we will merit seeing the world fulfill its goal, in Yerushalayim with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.
to Yankie and Dina Goldsmith on the birth of your new son! Mazal Tov to the proud grandparents, Nosson and Lisa Garfunkel and
Issur and Idie Goldsmith and to your entire family. Everyone ’round these
here parts appreciates how y’all arranged for your new son to enter this
world as a native born Savannian. May you merit raising your new Southern
son and all your children to lives filled with Torah, Mitzvahs
and Good Deeds!
Mazal Tov to Daniel Tanenbaum on your Bar Mitzvah this Shabbos! Mazal Tov to your proud parents, Alan and Barbara, brothers, Joel and Michael, and your entire family! The Tanenbaums personify all the positive stereotypes that people have about Southerners. Daniel, may you fulfill all the promise that your family and friends see in you and that your Creator has endowed in you as you continue growing as a Jewish adult in Torah, Mitzvahs and Good Deeds.Back By Popular Demand!
A New STEP Four Part Women’s Learning Series
Lecture #1: "The Power of Speech.” Presented by Aviva Shulman.
This Tuesday, April 24th at 8:00 PM at the JEA.
To get in touch with STEP, call Rabbi Shulman at (912) 303-9591
or Rabbi Edelstein at (912) 351-0469.
E-mail us at STEPKollel@netzero.net
us, or we’ll call you.
To get in touch with STEP, call Rabbi Shulman at (912) 303-9591 or Rabbi
Edelstein at (912) 351-0469. E-mail us at STEPKollel@netzero.net
Call us, or we'll call you.
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