Whereas Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu, die tragically for bringing uninvited offerings to God, in this week’s reading God goes out of his way to encourage the entire people, not only the crown princes of the priesthood, to “be holy” [Leviticus 19:2].
How will I die? What if (anything) happens to me (if there even still is a “me”) next? How will my death impact those I leave behind? The Talmud asks these questions in response to the death of Miriam and Aaron, part of this week’s sedra.
Between the lines of the Bible, we glimpse the difficulties — even tragedy — of Moses, the greatest prophet in history who nevertheless sees himself losing the fealty of the Hebrew nation, failing to direct the people toward the very goal of their Exodus; the conquest of and settlement of the Land of Israel. Where has he gone wrong, and why?