"And G‑d spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron's two sons who drew close [to bring an unauthorized offering] before G‑d and died." (Lev. 16:1)

Rabbi Yisroel of Tchortkov posed this problem. The Torah tells us, "Only you who are attached to G‑d the Almighty, remain alive today." (Deut. 4:4) G‑d is the source of life and one who draws close to G‑d, attaches himself to the source of life. How could it be that Nadav and Avihu, "who drew close to G‑d", died. The purpose of a Jew is to refine and repair every aspect of his soul…

It is written, "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of G‑d". (Psalms 111:10) One must also, "Love the L-rd your G‑d". (Deut. 6:5) The purpose of a Jew is to refine and repair every aspect of his soul, until each one is working together in harmony, each quality in its proper proportion. If one would serve G‑d only through love or chesed, he couldn't survive. The chesed of G‑d is boundless and so great that no one is capable of receiving so much without perishing. Similarly, if one served G‑d only through the quality of fear, or gevura, he couldn't survive either. G‑d is so awesome, who could stand before him? Therefore these two qualities must work together in proper harmony.

Nadav and Avihu drew close to G‑d (represented by the name Havayah, the aspect of G‑d's chesed), with only one quality - that of chesed - and therefore couldn't survive. "Only you who are attached to G‑d ["Havayah", representing chesed] the Almighty ["Elo-him",representing gevura] remain alive today" - only those who serve G‑d with both qualities in harmony will endure.

[Based on Ohr Yisroel, parashat Achrei Mot 5647;
First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Acharei 5759; www.nishmas.org]