Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Strange Fire ... a Midrashic Reconstruction on Nadav and Avihu
The parashah this week is Shemini. Instead of a traditional d'var Torah I am sharing with all of you an original midrash I wrote about Nadav and Avihu. These two sons of Aaron, the High Priest, after seeing Divine fire come down from heaven and devour the first sacrifice made in the newly-dedicated Mishkan (Sanctuary), decide to take matters into their own hands. They bring a "strange fire" before God, that God had not commanded them, and their punishment was that they were then devoured by Divine fire. The rabbis have commented on this for years, questioning whether Nadav and Avihu were simply brash, arrogant upstarts, or if perhaps there was another reason.
I like to think of Nadav and Avihu as the first Reconstructionists.