Parshas Achrei Mos

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In order to understand why it was necessary for the posuk to add the words “after the death of the two children of Aharon,” Rashi gives us a beautiful example in the name of Rabbi Elozer.

Just imagine a person is sick, burning with a high fever. His automatic instinct is to lie in a very cool and moist place in order to cool himself off just a bit and feel more comfortable. Even if his doctor warns him not to lay in such a place he will tend not to take the warning too seriously. He may easily disregard the doctor’s orders and do it anyway. After all, it seems to him that he will feel much better if he could cool off just a bit. In order for the doctor to make sure that the patient listens to his orders he must be much more forceful. Only when he makes it clear that another one of his patients has died because he went against orders and did lie in this cold and damp place will the sick man listen to what he has to say. The image of the person who has just died for not following orders leaves a powerful impression on the patient. He now takes the warning far more seriously.

So too, when Moshe tells his brother Aharon that he may not go into the Kodesh Kodoshim at any time, he must warn him very forcefully. By adding the fact that his two sons have just died he will take Moshe’s warning far more seriously.

One may, however, wonder, why was it necessary to give Aharon a stern warning? Certainly Aharon was a great tzaddik and would never even think of going against Hashem’s command! Why was itnecessary to give him such a stiff warning?

Perhaps this can be better understood with an expression Shlomo Hamelech uses in Shir HaShirim. I am sick with love (for You, Hashem). Aharon’s love for Hashemwas certainly far greater than any of us can possibly imagine. It was so great that he simply couldn’t exist without it. The great urge that he had to go into the place which represented the greatest kedusha in this lowly world was so strong, that an ordinary warning would not be enough. He would be unable to resist his great urge. He would be unable to control his great love which burst forth from his heart. It was like a flame of fire trying to jump away from its wick. Only the stern warning of death itself would be able to get him to restrain himself.

What an important lesson this ought to be for all of us. If only we could just have a small bit of Aharon’s love for Hashem. If only we too could feel just a little bit of that strong magnetic force pulling us to do Hashem’s commandments the way Aharon HaKohen felt. If only we could learn to serve Hashem with that same enthusiasm that we have for all our worldly pleasures which we run after with all our strength.

It’s time we stop and think very carefully when we say each morning and evening – v’ahafta es hashem elokecha… Let’s not just rattle it off. Let’s give it very deep and serious thought. Do we really feel that love the way we ought to feel it? Or are we just mouthing some words? What do we really and truly love? Is it perhaps all the worldly pleasures, which surround us from all sides? Or perhaps we truly feel a real deep love – a love that bursts forth with the greatest passion and desire to serve Hashem. How far are we, unfortunately, from the love that an Aharon HaKohen had? How far are we from the love Avrohom Ovinu had? They didn’t have to tell their hands and feet what to do. Doing Hashem’s will was an automatic reaction, the way we l’havdil run towards a baseball game. It’s time we realize our priorities. It’s time we realize in which direction we are headed and make an immediate about-face. It’s time we started thinking what our real purpose in life really is.