The sacrifices are completed as the culmination of the process of building the Mishkan and making it ready as an instrument for the worship of Hashem
Vayikra 9:24. And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fats upon the altar, and all the people saw, sang praises, and fell upon their faces.
However following this celebration and acknowledge of the wonders they had witnessed and been a part of we now have the curious incident of Nadab and Abihu Aaron’s sons who were consumed by the Lord’s fire having taken an offering of incense that was not permitted in the Tent of Meeting.
Zohar Shemini 61. “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you, nor your sons with you…” (Vayikra 10:8). Rabbi Yehuda said that from this chapter we learn that Nadab and Abihu were under the influence of wine from the fact that the priests were warned about it. Rabbi Chiya cites that verse: “And wine that makes glad the heart of man” (Tehilim 104:15): If the priest is required to be glad and smiling more than any other man, why is he forbidden wine which creates joy and smiles?
What this suggests is that Nadab and Abihu through their intoxication made an unholy approach to Hashem and were consumed by the fire of holiness losing their lives in the process. There is a specific attitude of holiness that has already been detailed throughout Vayikra up to this point. Nadab and Abihu took it upon themselves then in their ‘high’ condition to assume that holiness without having been prepared for it and were thus unable to withstand its awesome force.
Zohar Shemini 62. Wine makes one joyful at first and saddens later,. All the more with the wine that comes from the side of the Levites, from the place in which wine abides – for the Torah and her wine are of the side of Gvurah, and the side of the priests is that of clear shining water,
The attitude of holiness is one of joyfulness that is brought about through attention above making that holy connection a continuous part of your daily practice. It cannot be simulated as in drinking since as the Zohar rightly states, wine makes you glad at first but then saddens later. In order the priests to function in their role of aiding in the transformation of sin they themselves have to be vessels of ‘clear shining water.’ Intoxication by definition muddies those ‘waters.’
If you are aspiring to holiness then you must become as the thing you are aspiring to. The natural way of holiness is through the traditional repentance prayer and forgiveness along with Torah study and giving Tzedekah. Holiness is approached and communed with by becoming that clear vessel of water through which holiness flows through unimpeded. Then you are simply another link in that everlasting flow which connects all of us above.
Another take on this incident is that Nadab and Abihu aspired with all their hearts the holiness they were seeking but did not make their approach in the proper way ending up in effect sacrificing their lives for holiness. Suffice it to say this is not the recommended way which is why there is the prohibition against drinking for priests in the service of the Mishkan. B”H
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