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Shemini

"And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, 'Do not drink wine that will lead to intoxication, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, so that you shall not die. [This is] an eternal statute for your generations'" Leviticus 10:8-9

    It is not easy to remain true to one's traditions. Society today is happy to condone or even promote imitation products, which affects the way we see the world. Even in our spiritual lives, we may be tempted from authentic practice, instead looking to experiment with different techniques and stimulants.

    This week the joy of Aaron's first moments as high priest in the newly erected tabernacle is punctured with the death of two of his sons. Tradition is divided on what they did; however, some commentators infer from the juxtaposition of two verses cited above that the two sons approached their tasks while they were drunk.

    In his masterful commentary, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes: "The corpses of the first youthful priests, fallen through the lofty aspirations of their stirred feelings, preach the solemn warning to all future generations to look on themselves only as servants and guardians of God's sanctity and God's Torah, and the serious danger of teaching intuitive ideas of their own selves in place of God's truth."

    We must look into our traditions and develop genuinely Jewish approaches to spirituality. It was easier in the past when God would communicate His wishes. Today we must take care not to confuse being intoxicated with spirituality. We do not need to live with a guru on a mountain top retreat to feel connected with eternity.

    Being true to ourselves and our spiritual heritage will bring us proper fulfilment in our quest for the deepest connection with God.

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