The death of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, is one of the most tragic and mystifying stories in the entire Torah. They were bringing a fiery sacrifice to God – and God struck them dead.
Most people who study this story tend to get stuck on the question: “What did they do wrong?? I thought sacrificing to God was a good thing!”
But there’s one other question that gets much less attention — but is just as important: Why Nadav and Avihu? What motivated them to pick up their fire pans on that day and rush towards the Mishkan? You don’t see anyone else trying to do that.
Does the Torah offer us an answer? We think it does. To find it, you have to study Nadav and Avihu’s backstory.
What, you didn’t know that they had a backstory? Few people realize that Parshat Shemini is not the first time that we meet Nadav and Avihu. We met them in the Book of Exodus, where they had a life-changing experience — an experience that, ultimately, led them to their deaths.
Join Beth Lesch as she explores Nadav and Avihu’s backstory — and cautions us against repeating Nadav and Avihu’s fatal mistake.