6. Another explanation for, "After the death of the two sons of Aaron." Rabbi Yosi said: It should have read, 'After the death of Nadab and Abihu,' so what is the reason THAT IT SAYS, "The two sons of Aaron?" It is obvious that they were his sons. HE ANSWERS: We have learned that until that time they were not adults but still under the authority of their father; CONSEQUENTLY, THE VERSE REFERS TO THEM AS THE SONS OF AARON. Hence, "when they came near before Hashem, and died" (Vayikra 16:1), they were rushing the time OF OFFERING INCENSE during the lifetime of their father, AS IS INDICATED LATER, and there was more, MEANING OTHER CAUSES PRECIPITATED THEIR DEATH. ALSO, because of the sin they committed "when they offered a foreign fire" (Bemidbar 3:4) as we learned, in one place it is written, "When they offered a foreign fire," AND FOR THIS REASON THEY DIED. In another place, it is written, "When they came near before Hashem," THEY DIED BECAUSE THEY SACRIFICED, BECAUSE THEY RUSHED THE TIME TO BURN INCENSE DURING THE LIFETIME OF THEIR FATHER, AS MENTIONED ABOVE. THIS MEANS THE COMBINATION OF both matters CAUSED THEIR DEATHS, and so it is written here, "The two sons of Aaron" TO TEACH THAT THEY WERE STILL UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF AARON, AS DECLARED ABOVE. It is written, "When they came near," FOR THE DEATH WAS AS A RESULT OF THEIR APPROACH BEFORE HASHEM, DURING THE LIFETIME OF THEIR FATHER.
43. Rabbi Elazar was sitting before his father. He said to him that it is written about the congregation of Korah, "And they perished from among the congregation" (Bemidbar 16:33). What is meant by "and they perished?" It is similar to that which is written, "The same person will I destroy from among his people" (Vayikra 23:30). Rabbi Shimon said that the sons of Aaron are different THAN THE CONGREGATION OF KORAH, because 'perish' is not written about them, as it does about the congregation of Korah, where it is written, "And they perished from among the congregation." It is also written, "Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish" (Bemidbar 17:27), which included the 250 people who offered the incense. THEY surely perished; however, THE SONS OF AARON did not perish.
45. He said to him: Elazar, my son, come and see that all sacrifices and burnt offerings bring gratification to the Holy One, blessed be He. But there is no truer gratification BEFORE HIM than the incense, for the incense is the most praiseworthy. This is the reason that it is offered in the innermost chambers, NAMELY THE HOLY OF HOLIES, silently. We have learned that. For this reason people were not punished for other kinds of sacrifices and burnt offerings as for incense, because in the whole of the service of the Holy One, blessed be He, this is the most joined and connected. That is why it is called incense, BECAUSE INCENSE IN ARAMAIC MEANS CONNECTING, so it says, "Ointment and incense rejoice the heart" (Mishlei 27:9).
46. Rabbi Shimon opened the discussion saying, "Your ointments are fragrant..." (Shir Hashirim 1:3). I have closely studied this verse and this is the explanation: What is meant by "fragrant?" IT MEANS THAT the fragrance of the incense is subtle and finer, more interior than anything else. When this fragrance rises to join with the anointing oil of the fountain streams, WHICH ARE THE SFIROT OF ZEIR ANPIN, they wake one another and connect together. Then these ointments are good for illumination, as the verse says, "Your ointments are fragrant (lit. 'good for fragrance)."
49. Another explanation for "the virgins (Heb. alamot) love you:" It is fine to read this verse as: 'over death (Heb. al mavet) they love you,' for with this, NAMELY OIL WHICH DENOTES CHASSADIM, the harsh prosecutors embalm themselves, AS 'ALAMOT' IS SPELLED WITH THE SAME LETTERS AS 'AL MAVET.' For incense, SIGNIFYING THE ILLUMINATION OF CHOCHMAH, joins with the higher level ointment, WHICH IS CHASSADIM, and is held in high esteem before the Holy One, blessed be He, more than all sacrifices and burnt offerings. The Congregation of Yisrael said: I am like the incense, DENOTING MALCHUT, AS MALCHUT IS THE SECRET MEANING OF LOWER CHOCHMAH, and You, DENOTING ZEIR ANPIN, are like ointment, DENOTING CHASSADIM. THEREFORE, "Draw me, we will run after you" (Shir Hashirim 1:4). "We will run" IS A PLURAL EXPRESSION, as in, "therefore do the virgins love you," THAT IS, I and all my troops, who all hold onto me. Hence, "draw me," as they are all dependent on me.
55. When the priest heard their voices in the Temple, he placed the incense in its right place and meditated on something, in order that the blessing should flow to all. The wings of the Cherubs were moving up and down, singing and covering the ark. Then they would raise them. This is the meaning of "overspreading." "Overspreading" is exact. Where do we derive that their voices were heard? NAMELY from the verse, "I heard the noise of their wings" (Yechezkel 1:24).
69. HE ANSWERS: At the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the sweet incense to Aaron, He wanted no one else to deal with this during his lifetime. For what reason? Because Aaron increased peace in the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: 'Since you wish to increase peace in the world, peace will multiply above through you. The sweet incense will be transmitted to you from now on, AS INCENSE INCREASES PEACE ABOVE, and during your life, no one else will be permitted to deal with it.' During their father's lifetime, Nadab and Abihu hastened to offer that which was not given to them, and this matter caused them to make a mistake BY OFFERING A FOREIGN FIRE.
70. We have learned Moses was pondering who caused them to make this mistake OF OFFERING FOREIGN FIRE, and was sad. It is written, "And Hashem spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron." What did He say to him? "When they came near before Hashem, and died" (Vayikra 16:1) It is not written: 'offered,' but "came near." The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, 'This is what caused them this, for they hurried the hour TO OFFER INCENSE during the lifetime of their father.' They erred in this, IN OFFERING FOREIGN FIRE, so the verse says, "Which He commanded them not" (Vayikra 10:1). They were not commanded to OFFER, for only Aaron did He command. SO THE EXPLANATION OF THE VERSE, "AND OFFERED FOREIGN FIRE BEFORE HASHEM" (IBID.) IS THAT THEY ERRED IN THIS BECAUSE "HE COMMANDED THEM NOT" TO OFFER INCENSE BUT HE COMMANDED AARON ALONE. And if the two sons of Aaron, by rushing the time during their father's lifetime, brought all this on themselves, this is all the more true for me, in relation to my father and Rabbi Pinchas and the other friends. I AM NOT PERMITTED TO RUSH THE HOUR AND SAY NOVEL TORAH INTERPRETATIONS IN THEIR STEAD. Rabbi Pinchas came forth, and kissed and blessed him.
199. He takes three steps, but the others remain where they are and do not follow. He takes another three steps and returns to his place. He walks three paces, closes his eyes, connects to that which is above and enters that certain place, NAMELY THE HOLY OF HOLIES. He hears the sound of wings of the Cherubs, singing and fanning their wings that are stretched upward. When he would offer the incense, the sound of their wings quieted and they were silently clasped together.