Acherei Mot, literally “after the death,” begins with a response to the death of Nadav and Avihu through the rules and regulations with regards to atonement – the origins of the Yom Kippur rituals.
But what is it that Nadav and Avihu did wrong in their offerings to G-d? They desperately wanted to show their love for G-d. But in their passion, they did not stop to think about what G-d wanted from them.
This story teaches us that we must put aside our own passions and listen to the needs of the ones we love, in order to best help them.
Sometimes in Jewish campus life we become like Nadav and Avihu, too eager to impose our preconceived ideas about what a situation requires. Enthusiasm does not necessarily signal that we have the right answer. But when we truly listen and create space for honesty, the results can be beautiful instead of deadly.
Nora Greenstein is the Engagement Associate at USC Hillel.