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Chassidic Masters

Withdrawal and Return
Our Parshah begins by mentioning the death of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron. Their death is something of a mystery, for while they seemed to have been punished for their faults (no less than 14 different "sins" and shortcomings are enumerated by the Sages) a mystical explanation is that they experienced a spiritual ecstasy so intense that their souls literally left their bodies. Can we reconcile these two analyses of their character? And what is the connection between their deaths and the High Priest's service in the Holy Temple on Yom Kippur?
The most sacred—and mysterious—ritual in the Holy Temple was the burning of the ketoret, a specially prepared incense whose ingredients and manner of preparation were commanded to Moses at Sinai. The offering of the ketoret in the “Holy of Holies” by the high priest was the climax of the Yom Kippur service. What is the significance of the ketoret? Maimonides describes its function, Rabbeinu Bechayei vehemently disagrees, and the chassidic masters explain.
The Torah describes Yom Kippur as achat bashanah, "once a year" -- a phrase which also translates as "the one of the year". The Chassidic masters explain: this is the annual point in time in which true oneness breaks the surface multiplicity and separateness that define our lives on the year's other 364 days.
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