By: Steve Kirschenbaum
The very first Rashi in Parshas Acharei Mos – Kedoshim teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu was told to command Aharon HaKohen the different Tzavaos that have to do with the Mishkan and Acharei Mos, asks Rashi, why does it say after Nadav and Avihu died since we know that this is occurring soon after that fatal incident? היה רבי אלעזר בן עזריה מושלו משל לחולה שנכנס אצלו רופא, it’s comparable to someone who goes to a doctor and the doctor says no to do something, the person may or may not listen. However, if the doctor says not to do something because Ploni did it and he died, that serves as an extra warning and will motivate the person to heed the doctor’s advice. Here, Aharon HaKohen is being told be careful, look what happened to your children, you don’t want it to happen to you. According to Rashi, Acharei Mos serves as an extra warning.
Rav Mordechai Druk in his Sefer Darash Mordechai points out that the Baalei Mussar, specifically Rav Leib Chasman, is Matmia. Does Aharon HaKohen need to have that added level of warning to properly motivate him? Did he really need to be warned that you are going to die if you don’t do it? Aharon HaKohen was the Gadol HaDor and he served G-d with great love. Is it really imperative for him to be warned of the punishment involved? Say the Baalei Mussar, yes. No matter who you are, you need extra warnings, extra care in place.
Rav Yisroel Reisman once mentioned in the name of Rav Avigdor Miller that people think that Avodah Mai’Yiras HaOnesh, serving G-d out of fear of punishment is a low Madreiga in serving Hashem. He said to the contrary, everyone needs that fear factor. We see that even Aharon HaKohen needed it.
Says Rav Druk, if you want to warn Aharon HaKohen — the Gadol HaDor — to not learn Torah on Tisha B’av, maybe we can understand that he needs that added caution. But to warn him to not drink wine when he enters the Beis HaMikdash, Aharon HaKohen, the holy Tzaddik, needs such a warning? Aharon HaKohen who was Shomer all Mitzvos with such care and attention needs a warning for such a thing? It doesn’t make sense.
Rav Druk imparts a beautiful explanation to this question. The Bnei Aharon died from committing an Aveira that involved a tremendous amount of Ahavas Hashem, an immense closeness and unbridled love towards HKBH, that went so far that they couldn’t control themselves; they brought a new Aish to Hashem. It was a tremendous Mesiras Nefesh that they had and that ultimately brought them to their death.
Says Rav Druk, of course, Aharon HaKohen doesn’t have to be warned about punishments for simple Aveiros. But an Aveira that involves unleashing that Ahavah could potentially be a struggle for Aharon HaKohen, who longed and desired for such a Kiruv to HKBH. This Ahava could have led to such a tremendous Hiskarvus to HKBH. After all, Moshe Rabbeinu said to Aharon that they were greater than us in the area of Ahavah. When we understand the Cheit of the Bnei Aharon in this context, in the way that Rav Schwab explains that it came from that Hiskarvus to HKBH, then we can understand that Aharon HaKohen had to be warned in this manner.
In Parshas Ki Sisa in 33:18, Moshe Rabbeinu asked of HKBH ‘Hareini Nah Es Kivodecha,’ show me, your honor, show me a vision of Yourself, to which HKBH responds in 33:20 ‘Lo Yirani Adam Va’Chai,’ no one can see me and continue to live. Says Rav Druk, Moshe Rabbeinu knew that to see HKBH, to see Kvod Hashem, means to leave this world, but it was worth it to him. Moshe Rabbeinu said I want to serve Hashem with a tremendous Ahava. As it says in Tehillim 84:3, I have a tremendous Ahavah. That tremendous Ahavah should go to the extent that I am even willing to die for it. That is a different type of Cheit. That is a Cheit of Hiskarvus to the Ribbono Shel Olam to such an extraordinary degree. Now we can understand that the warning to Aharon HaKohen had to be a strong warning.
Misas Tzadikim is Mechapeir like Misas Nadav and Avihu. Is it a wonder that Aharon might have had a Taava to reach that type of a level of Kirvha with HKBH? He needed the strong warning. It is a whole different picture in the Kavana of Rashi and the Cheit of Bnei Aharon.