THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
In this week's Parsha, Parshas Shmini, we read about Traifus. Lots of it. Pigs. Camels. Flying insects. Eagles. Bottom-dwelling-non-finned-non-scaled-fish. Reboinoishelolum, it makes my mouth water! In fact I am currently lobbying the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the RCA, the OU, YU, JTS, the UJA, the ADL, the JCRC, the JDL, AIPAC, the WZO, the JNF, ARZA, the HUC, the Kof-K, the Triangle-K, and Amit Women to officially change the name of the Parsha to "Parshas Mouthwatering". So far I have only heard back from two organizations: the Triangle-K, which wants to negotiate pricing, and the HUC, which thought the name of the Parsha actually is "Parshas Mouthwatering".
According to the RIF, the enactment of Traifus restrictions is one of the ultimate tests of being a member of Am Yisrael. After all, it must be delicious! Indeed it is fair to assume that the Aimishteh created all of the taboo creatures with the delicious Traifus-goodness baked right in. He must have taste-tested it too, to make sure He got the recipe just right.
Oy, what I wouldn't give to be a Goy right now, so I could have no rules or restrictions! I would walk right into the local McTraifus, with my girlfriend Christine O'Reilly by my side, and order a bacon double lizard burger with deep fried owl, and wash it down with a vanilla milk shake. Actually, as long as I am immune from all of the commandments spelled out in the Toirah, make that my boyfriend Philip O'Reilly. We would eat the night away, and then go back to my place to worship Avoidah Zara, shave off our sideburns, and put on some Shatnez.
But alas, Shver Tzu Zein Ah Yid, being a Jew comes with a price. WE have a covenant with the Reboinoishelolum: We follow His rules, and keep His Mitzvois, His Chukim, and His Mishpatim. And as a reward, we get to spend our entire lives being persecuted.
However, what happens when we don't follow the rules? The Parsha tells us of one such occurrence. Aron Hakoihain's good-for-nothing sons offend the Aimishteh and get burnt to a crisp. But what was their Aveirah?
RASHI cites one suggested explanation, that Nadav and Avihu had all the best of intentions: They simply added on to the Avoidah, because they thought it would be a nice thing to do. In other words, they were guilty of Baal Toisiph, and the Reboinoisheloilum struck them down for trying to engage in Hiddur Mitzvah. Hey, please remind me of this next time I want to spend an extra ten dollars on an Esroig!
But according to Toisfois, the brothers were Minuvals who were horsing around in the Mishkan. There they were, doing the Avoidah, when Nadav thought it would be hysterically funny to dump the contents of the Kiyore on Avihu's head. Avihu responded by taking the Urim V'Tumim and smacking Nadav in the face, causing him to fall backwards into the Tayvah holding the Luchois. This got the Kruvim angry and...well...you've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark . You know what happens next...
However, the Vilna Goyn, looking elsewhere in the Parsha, suggests that given the references to Traifus at the end of the Parsha, Nadav and Ahvihu must have been using the Mizbayach to barbecue ribs, anointing them with a Mesopitamian Smokey Grill Marinade, on sale at the local supermarket as a two for one special. But he is uncertain if the brothers were punished for eating Traif ribs, or simply for overcooking them.
The RAMAH vehemently disagrees with the Goyn. He insists that cooking and eating Traifus, even in the Mishkan, does not bring about a Chiyuv of Missuh, just so long as whatever was cooked and eaten conforms with the same Halachois in place for the Korbonois. He cites a Braisah in Yevamois which says the brothers had fully and successfully cooked their meal. But after eating they brought out a cake from which Avihu's wife had cut out a small wedge, "just to taste". Consequently they were Chayuv Missuh for having brought a dessert with a Moom into the Koidesh HaKedoishim.
In my humble opinion, I respectfully submit that the Goyn and the RAMAH have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. A Maiseh Shehoyo: When I was a young Talmid I experimented with Traifus, in the spirit of "Oiseh Maiseh Beraishis"; I felt compelled to sample all of His creations. Including dumplings. As I washed my first bites down at the Chinese restaurant, I waited. Would I be struck down by a bolt of lightening? Would I choke to death on a clump of Traifus? No! The Aimishteh left it up to me to make my choices and live with them.
So did Nadav and Avihu, those Minuvals. They saw the signs written on the walls of the Mishkan, yet chose to ignore them and paid the ultimate price.
As the spring season arrives, we should all keep the bitter lessons of Nadav and Avihu in mind: Always keep the room well ventilated when grilling indoors.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, you Minuval.
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess