Nadav and Avihu – Their Mistake Continues Today
Rabbi Chaim Kenny Cohen has taught Gemara and Jewish Studies at Yeshivat Machon Meir for over two decades. Other articles by him can be found at: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/kenneth-cohen/
There are many interpretations as to why Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, deserved to be put to death. The Baal Haturim lists at least five possible reasons, but is more inclined towards one. He stated that their fate was sealed because they didn’t listen to rebuke. They decided matters of Jewish Law on their own, disrespecting their teachers, Moshe and Aharon. They were the younger generation that thought they knew better than their elders.
This phenomenon is very prevalent in today’s world. The wisdom and experience of the older generation is not consulted for direction. The younger people actually believe that they know better. It is possible that this feeling of superiority comes from their familiarity with the world of technology world. If the older people don’t catch on quickly with e-mails and texting, and are not able to remember the various passwords and unlock encrypted messages, they must not be very bright. How can they be expected to give wise advice when they don’t know the difference between Tik Tok and Instagram?
Throughout our history, we were taught to respect our elders, and glean from their vast knowledge and experiences. The young people of today are missing out on a real treasure which is waiting to be taken, as close at hand as Google. The consolation may come with the understanding that this problem began a long time ago. And an even greater consolation is that the Talmud in the Tractate Sota sees this lack of respect of the youth towards their elders as a clear sign that Mashiach is on his way.