Destruction and Disrespect
One of the most tragically enigmatic stories in the Torah takes place this Shabbat. In the midst of the sacrificial festivities in the tabernacle, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, tragically perish. The Torah does not elaborate much with regard to the cause of their death.
Rather, it laconically states that they perished on account of bringing forth a “strange fire” before HaShem. But what exactly is this strange fire?
According to Rabbi Yishmael, the strange fire symbolizes the fact that Aaron’s sons perished because they entered the sanctuary in an undignified state of intoxication. Rabbi Eliezer offers another perspective. According to Rabbi Eliezer, Aaron’s sons died because they “taught the law before their teacher Moses.”
Rabbi Eliezer is essentially saying that the destruction of Aaron’s family and the untimely death of his sons, stemmed from a chronic lack of respect.
When hierarchies break and arrogance and bullying reign supreme, families and organizations can easily collapse. Without respect for leadership, there can be no long term stability and viability, only high turnover and constant backstabbing and deceit. Dysfunctional families and organizations tend to share this sordid streak of disrespect. Something for all of us to consider and think about, in the context and privacy of our own family lives.