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Doing the Right Thing

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

Doing the Right Thing


This week’s Parsha describes one of the well-known and incredibly tragic stories of the shocking death of Aharon HaKohen’s sons Nadav and Avihu on the day of the dedication of the Mishkan. The anticipation of this day and the celebration of it add to the already devastating event of the death. So much has been written and will be written on what exactly went wrong on that day. And yet, every year, I find myself once again perplexed and aghast at these events. And every year I find myself more and more understanding Aharon’s reaction of total silence. The tragedy was too great for words. 

This year as I read the Parsha I tried to avoid attempting to understand what went wrong and instead tried to just connect with the scene that took place. 

The scene was set to perfection. Even for us, as the readers of the text. We have, after all, been learning about and preparing for the Mishkan since way back in Parshat Terumah. The nation was ready. The Torah states in Perek 9, Pasuk 24- "The entire nation saw (G-ds glory)".  Everyone was there, everyone was part of this magnificent event.

And then, Nadav and Avihu go off and do whatever they do and the celebration is changed into tragedy. 

Perhaps Nadav and Avihu lost themselves in the celebration of the Klal, of the Nation. And within the nation’s celebration, they misjudged their own actions and the rest is unfortunate history.

Religiously speaking, we often find ourselves in 'the right places'. Perhaps we go to shul, maybe we sit in on Shiurim, hopefully we are part of a vibrant and chessed oriented community- be it a neighborhood, a college dorm, a shul, etc.

But just because we find ourselves in the right place at the right time, does not necessarily mean that we are doing the right thing. Maybe we are in Shul, but were busy talking or noticing others. We could be sitting in a shiur, but scrolling through social media. We could be part of an amazing chessed committee, and be so busy encouraging others to contribute that we may not have contributed that which we ask of others. We are sometimes so blessed and lucky by those who we are surrounded by, that we underestimate the power of our own actions because we are (hopefully) swept up by positive influences, even if only for an hour. Or less.

I don’t know what Nadav and Avihu really had in mind by their action. What we do know, is that the entire nation was engaged in service and they deviated. Maybe they thought that their actions didn’t matter as much, because what was going on all around them was so great.

I therefore humbly suggest that perhaps a take home message could possibly be to examine our own actions while in Shul, while in class, while being surrounded by anything good and make sure that not only are we in the right place, but that we are doing the right thing as well. Sometimes the easier part is actually to be in the right place, and the harder part is doing the right thing.

May the tragedy of Nadav and Avihu serve as a wakeup call to all of us, to never minimize the actions that we do, so that we always strive for greatness even when and while surrounded by greatness.




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