Sh’mini – Torah in Haiku

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“Fire from before G-d …”
Consumes the sacrifices …
G-d’s glory revealed ——-
A “strange fire” offered …
By Nadav and Abihu …
What did that reveal? ——–
“Fire from before G-d …”
Consumes the sons of Aaron …
G-d’s anger revealed? ———–
In the span of three verses, we read about three different fires.
First, after the eighth-day (Shemini) rituals concluding the installation of the priests “Moses and Aaron …  blessed the people; and the glory of G-d appeared to all the people. And there came a fire out from before G-d and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat; which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”(Lev 9:23-24).
Then, in the very next verse we read, “Nadav and Abihu, the sons of Aaron … offered strange fire before G-d, which had not been commanded” (Lev 10:1). We don’t know much about this unauthorized offering, nor is there agreement about the motives of Aaron’s sons. Were they being rebellious, or was it zealousness about their service to G-d? Or was it something else? What did their actions reveal?
Finally, “There came a fire out from before G-d and devoured them, and they died before G-d.” (Lev 10:2).  On the surface it appears that G-d is angry about what Nadav and Abihu had done. But according to a contemporary midrash by Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan it might simply be that the boys were ahead of their time and actually ended up doing G-d’s will. That is one of the reasons I concluded my final haiku above with a question mark.
h/t to Anita Silvert, whose blog post “Drawing A Line” was the seed from which my thoughts emerged this week.  

Ed Nickow | The Torah In Haiku

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