The Midrash says that Aaron's two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, died young at the time of the dedication of the Tabernacle in the desert because they never married. However, the Torah verse specifically says that they died for having brought alien fire to the holy altar. (Lev. 10:1-2) How are we to reconcile these conflicting reasons?

Consider the possible answer provided by the following story.

Rabbi David of Zubeltov, son of the rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kosov, once became so ill that even the best physicians despaired of his life.

Not so his wife, Rebbetzin Pesya Leah, daughter of the eminent Sassover Rebbe. She refused to make peace with this decree. She sat by her husband's bedside and did not cease her praying and weeping. "Please, G‑d," she pleaded tearfully; "let my saintly husband recover."

The good woman's fervent prayer split the very heavens...

The good woman's fervent prayer split the very heavens and, despite the doctors' gloomy prognosis, the patient began to improve slowly. Soon her husband was back on his feet, leading his flock as before.

Reb David'l knew to whom he owed his recovery. He was well aware of his wife's devoted prayers. Once, in the company of his closest chasidim, he said, "Now that I am healthy again, I understand why the Midrash says Nadan and Avihu died because they did not have wives. If they had had wives like my own worthy Rebbetzin Leah, who would have prayed for them, they would surely have been saved from death despite their having brought improper fire before G‑d!"


[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from "Tales of Tzaddikim" (ArtScroll) by G. MaTov]

Connection to Weekly Reading: (Lev. 10:1-2), (Lev. 16:1)

Biographical note:
Rabbi David of Zubeltov (1797 - 25 Iyar 1846) was the son of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kosov and the son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Leib of Sassov. He became a rebbe in his own right at the young age of 29. He was held in great respect for his wisdom, even by the other rebbes of his generation.

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