(הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר……… וְאַל תַּאֲמֵן בְּעַצְמָךְ עַד יוֹם מוֹתָךְ (אבות ב:ד
Hillel says …….. “Don’t believe in yourself (to be perfect) until the day you die (Avot 2:4)
Our tradition presents a dynamic tension between inspiration and following “the rules”, between our mandate to discover our own unique path within the greater framework and mindless conformity. Nowhere else is this presented better than in the baffling episode of Nadav and Abihu, Aaron’s eldest sons, who died while bringing their own incense offering to the freshly-dedicated Mishkan (the portable Temple which followed our people until finding a permanent home in Jerusalem in the days of King Solomon).
They are described as passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic. At first glance, it seems we should ourselves be inspired by their inspiration, by their irresistible urge to add their voices to the Divine Service. Ultimately, however, they’re revealed to be more interested in following their own inner voices than the Voice of The Eternal.