Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wine is Okay, Drunk is Not

In this week's parsha, Shmini, we read that a Kohen is not permitted to do the Temple service while intoxicated. Hashem said this mitzva directly to Aharon, instead of the usual, where He would say it to Moshe or to both Moshe and Aharon together.

Why the change? What can we learn from this?

Earlier in our parsha we read about the death Aharon's sons Nadav and Avihu when, without being commanded, they brought incense offerings. Moshe said to Aharon "This is what G-d spoke, 'I will be sanctified by those nearest to Me, and I will be honored before all the people.'" And Aharon was silent.

From here we understand that Nadav and Avihu were "those near to Me", they were at a very high spirtual plane. Hashem chose to be "sanctified" through them.

Rashi tells us that Aharon was rewarded for his silence. Hashem handed down the mitzva, not to do the Temple service while intoxicated, directly to Aharon alone.

Aharon's exceptance of Hashem's will in the most difficult and painful situation, earned him a divine communication.

Wine is symbolic of the deepest secrets of the Torah. To be intoxicated on this "wine", means to go to spiritual heights with the intention to lose yourself totally, to the extent that the Neshama leaves the body to become one with it's source, Hashem.

Though this sounds idealistic and lofty, it is not what Hashem wants of us. He wants us to reach spiritual heights for the purpose of returning with the spiritual power to infuse the physical world with G-dliness.

Wine is okay, drunk is not.

Aharon was all about the fusion of G-dliness in to the physical. That is what a Kohen Gadol is all about, helping us reach spiritually higher so that we can, in turn, use our new found heights to make this world in to a home for Hashem.

By being silent he demonstrated his acceptance of Hashem's will. Recognizing his children's greatness, being able to attain such a high spirtual plane and yet realizing that this is not what Hashem wants. Being able to accept Hashem's will in the sight of his children's lifeless state earned him a divine communication.

We all suffer heartbreak and pain, excepting it as Hashem's will, even and especially when it makes no sense at all, puts you on an exalted level, worthy of being Hashem's conduit to lift and help others achieve higher heights and greater accomplishments.

I don't know why Hashem makes us suffer, I wish He wouldn't. However, this is His will and He surely has a good reason. All we can do is accept, and when we do we become His agent for positive change.

This is in no way giving up hope that things will get better. Rather we except what Hashem has burdened us with and pray for things to get better.

There is a story of a man digging through the toughest of rock in search for precious gems. As he is digging the work is so hard and seems so pointless and he is tempted to give up so many times. But he knows that if he persists no matter how tired he is, or how pointless it seems, he will find treasure. We are all digging deep in the hardest of circumstances right now. If only we knew how close we really are, we would be doing it with renewed energy and joy.

For thousands of years our ancestors have been digging. We are the most fortunate generation, for we will reach the goal. Of course the rock is hardest towards the end, but we are most determined and our will is stronger then ever. May we all be rewarded for our persistence, our pain, and our suffering with the coming of Moshiach immediately. 


  1. And may G-d be greatly sanctified throughout the world by doing a great miracle, granting you complete physical health, immediately!

    1. As you have said many times, it is always darkest before dawn. We pray daily for you and family to receive a full recovery this very moment