With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week. Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Cokey" died peacefully aged 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in - then the trouble started ….
“Nadav and Avihu died (VaYamot) before God when they offered unauthorised fire to God in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children” (BeMidbar 3:4).
Me’Eina Shel Torah inquires why does the Torah use the singular form “VaYamot” and not the plural “VaYamutu” which would be more grammatically correct?
The Midrash teaches (VaYikra Rabbah 20:9) that one of the reasons why Nadav and Avihu were killed was because they did not want to get married and have children, as they thought it would detract from their holiness. In fact, this explains the continuation of the verse “…and they had no children”.
We are familiar with the concept that when a man and woman marry “they become like one being” (Bereishit 2:24). Until marriage, they were two halves; now, they are one being.
We can now understand why the above verse used the singular and not the plural. Since Nadav and Avihu did not want to get married, they were like two incomplete people, and therefore together they were equal to one person!
It is very clear from the Torah and the Oral Law that getting married is imperative. The Torah states: “God said: It is not good for man to be alone” (Bereishit 2:18). The Midrash criticises Nadav and Avihu for not marrying because they were too proud of their aristocratic status and believed no woman was good enough for them (VaYikra Rabbah 20:10).
As for the Mitzvah of having children (Bereishit 1:22), the Gemara states unequivocally that “Whoever does not occupy himself with the precept of procreation is deserving of death” (Yevamot 64a). Rabbi Eliezer, basing his view on the juxtaposition of verses (Bereishit 9:6-7), taught further: “Anyone who does not engage in procreation, it is as if he spilled blood!” (Gemara Yevamot 63b) .
Chatam Sofer offers an interesting explanation why Nadav and Avihu were not saved from their punishment of death was because they lacked the merit of children. Had they raised God-fearing children they would have been spared. May we all be blessed with God-fearing children!

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