SHEMINI (LEVITICUS 9:1- 11:47)
This week’s parshah has an interesting section that I was actually, weirdly, looking forward to reading again because it’s so odd.
“Now Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before the Eternal alien fire, which had not been enjoined upon them. And fire came forth from the Eternal and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of the Eternal” (Lev 10:1- 10:2)
And that’s it. I’ve read this a few years in a row now, and each year, I think, wait what? And this phrasing- “alien fire” (or ‘strange fire’, etc) is so odd. It’s all just so weird. And then it jumps basically right into talking about what food is kosher and what isn’t. It’s a weird parshah.
I wasn’t really getting anywhere on my own after sort of just sitting with it for the past 2 days. TQ didn’t give me anything to chew on for this specific part. WTC reminded me that Leviticus really is all about giving prescriptions which preserve “God's orderly world, where everything has an assigned place”… specifying “what must be done whenever boundaries are wrongfully crossed”- and in this case Nadab and Abihu clearly crossed a boundary.
But then I searched through Keshet’s commentaries, and found this one by Maggid Jhos Singer which was really examining the text in the same way I was this week- trying to figure out how to transform this violence into some sort of meaning. I don’t really have any more to say, so I’m just going to leave this here so I can find it again later.