“Tatty,” Shneur asked his father, “this week’s parshah begins with HaShem’s commandment to Aharon ‘after the death of his two sons.’ But didn’t the Torah tell us what happened to Nadav and Avihu in Parshas Shemini which we read a couple of weeks ago? If this commandment is connected to their death, why didn’t the Torah mention it in Parshas Shemini?”

“That’s a good question, Shneur. Let’s think about it together. First, what is the commandment?”

Shneur had learned Parshas Acharei. “The Torah says, ‘And he should not come at all times to the holy place.’ That means that the kohanim are only allowed to enter the holy areas of the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash at specific times, not all the time.”

“Right,” nodded his father. “Now, how is this commandment connected to the passing of Aharon’s two sons?”

“Well, they entered the holy area of the Mishkan when they weren’t supposed to,” replied Shneur.

“Did your teacher explain more about Nadav and Avihu?” asked his father. “Were they simply careless when they entered a place where they were not allowed?”

“No,” answered Shneur. “They weren’t just being careless. Our teacher told us that they felt very holy and wanted to be very close to HaShem — so close that their neshamos left their bodies.”

“And that was their mistake,” his father explained. “HaShem wants us to be holy, but not in such a way that our neshamos leave our bodies. HaShem puts our neshamos in our bodies so that we can fill ourselves and the world around us with His holiness.”

“But Tatty, that still doesn’t explain why the Torah gives us this lesson here and not in Parshas Shemini,” insisted Shneur.

“I am coming to that. You see, HaShem’s commandment to Aharon is a lesson to every Jew. A person may think: ‘I know what I have to do. I have a family and I need to work, so I am a storekeeper. I know HaShem wants me to go out into the world and do business and bring His holiness into everything I do, everywhere I go.’ But you know, Shneur, it’s not so easy. That storekeeper may get discouraged and say, ‘This is too hard. It would be easier to sit all day in a shul, surrounded by holy books and prayer.’ Still, that’s not what HaShem wants. He tells us, ‘You shall not come into the holy areas at all times.’

“The Torah wants that storekeeper, and everyone else, to understand how we can bring holiness into our lives at all times. So before we learn the lesson from the commandment in Parshas Acharei, the Torah teaches us many laws about how a Jew can live in a holy manner. We learn these laws specifically in the parshiyos before Acharei — Tazria and Metzora. By learning, we receive strength from the Torah to know how to separate what is holy from what is not holy. This makes it easier for us to make ourselves and everything around us shine with HaShem’s holiness.”

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVII, pgs. 122-123)