1. "And Hashem spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron... and Hashem said to Moses" (Vayikra 16:1). Rabbi Yehuda comments: Since the verse says, "And Hashem spoke to Moses," what need is there to repeat "and Hashem said to Moses, Speak to your brother Aaron...?" The first statement should have sufficed. HE ANSWERS: We learn that it is written, "And Hashem (lit. 'He') called to Moses and (lit. 'Hashem') spoke to him" (Vayikra 1:1) and also, "And He said to Moses, Come up to Hashem" (Shemot 24:1). It has already been established that the discourse here, NAMELY "AND HE CALLED TO MOSES" OR "AND HE SAID TO MOSES" represents one level, NAMELY MALCHUT. Afterwards, the words, "AND HASHEM SPOKE TO HIM" OR "COME UP TO HASHEM" represent another level, NAMELY ZEIR ANPIN. Here too in our text, "And Hashem spoke to Moses" represents one level, NAMELY THE LEVEL OF JUDGMENT REFERRED TO AS 'SPEAKING,' and afterwards the verse, "And Hashem said to Moses, Speak to your brother Aaron" represents another level, NAMELY THE QUALITY OF MERCY REFERRED TO AS 'SAYING.' IN BOTH INSTANCES THE NAME YUD HEI VAV HEI IS MENTIONED, which reveals that they carry one equal scale and all are joined from one source. THIS MEANS THAT BOTH LEVELS, JUDGMENT AND MERCY, ARE OF ONE SCALE FROM ONE SOURCE, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN REFERRED TO AS YUD HEI VAV HEI.
2. "After the death of the two sons of Aaron:" Rabbi Yitzchak opened the discussion saying, "Serve Hashem in fear, and rejoice with trembling" (Tehilim 2:11). It is also written, "Serve Hashem with gladness: come before Him with singing" (Tehilim 100:2). These verses appear to contradict one another, as ONE SAYS TO SERVE IN FEAR AND TREMBLING WHILE THE OTHER SAYS WITH GLADNESS AND SINGING. HE ANSWERS: We have learned that "serve Hashem in fear" means that one must first show fear and awe in every act he wishes to perform before his Master. As a result of this reverence before his Master, he will merit to serve with joy the commandments of the Torah. Therefore, it is written, "What does Hashem your Elohim require of you, but to fear" (Devarim 10:12). THROUGH FEAR, HE WILL MERIT IT ALL.
3. "And rejoice with trembling," MEANING that man must not overly rejoice in this world, referring only to worldly matters, but one must rejoice in the matters of Torah and the performance of precepts. Then, AS ONE WILL REFRAIN FROM REJOICING IN MUNDANE MATTERS, man will find himself able to perform Torah and precepts with happiness, as it is written, "Serve Hashem with gladness."
4. Rabbi Aba said, "Serve Hashem in fear:" What fear is meant here? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION IN THIS CONTEXT OF FEAR? HE ANSWERS: As we have established, it is written, "The fear of Hashem is the beginning of knowledge" (Mishlei 1:7) and "the fear of Hashem is the beginning of wisdom" (Tehilim 111:10), so the Holy One, blessed be He, is referred to in this name, "Fear of Hashem," NAMELY MALCHUT. Rabbi Elazar said: IN EXPLANATION OF RABBI ABA'S WORDS, "Serve Hashem in fear," MEANING he who wishes to perform the service of his Master, from what point should he begin and to which area should he aim his service in order to unify the name of his Master? He repeats his words "with fear," because fear, WHICH IS MALCHUT, is the start OF SERVICE going from below upwards, AS THE FIRST SFIRAH GOING FROM BELOW UPWARDS IS MALCHUT.
5. Come and see: It is written here, "After the death" and later, "Speak to Aaron your brother...Thus shall Aaron come." (Vayikra 16:2-3). WHAT CONNECTION IS THERE BETWEEN "AFTER THE DEATH OF" TO THE VERSE, "THUS (LIT. 'WITH THIS') SHALL AARON COME?" HE ANSWERS: FROM THE DEATH OF THE SONS OF AARON commences the warning to each of the priests that they must be mindful of Zot (Eng. 'this' fem.), which is the fear of Hashem, WHICH IS MALCHUT. FOR THE DEATHS OF THE SONS OF AARON WERE AS A RESULT OF THEIR NEGLIGENCE IN RELATION TO MALCHUT.
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.
7. Rabbi Chiya said: One day I was traveling to Rabbi Shimon to be taught by him the laws of the Pesach (Passover). I encountered a mountain and I saw clefts and cavities in one rock, and two men were in there. As I approached, I heard the voices of these people who were saying, "A song, a psalm for the sons of Korah, Great is Hashem and highly to be praised..." (Tehilim 48:1-2). Why "A song, a psalm?" HE ANSWERS: Thus do we learn on behalf of Rabbi Shimon: The song is two-fold, NAMELY A SONG AND A PSALM, and since it is a better song than other songs, it is named "song" twice. Similarly, "A psalm, a poem for the Shabbat day" (Tehilim 92:1), MEANING THAT IT IS MORE PRAISEWORTHY THAN OTHER SONGS. In the same fashion, "the song of songs which is Solomon's" (Shir Hashirim 1:1), INDICATING a song that stands above all other songs.
8. ALSO HERE, WHERE IT IS WRITTEN, "A song, a psalm," THIS SONG IS SUPERIOR TO OTHERS. It is a song describing the Holy One, blessed be He, which the sons of Korah were singing about those who were dwelling in the doorway of Gehenom. Who were THE SONS OF KORAH? They were the brothers of those residing at the gates of Gehenom, AS THE HOLY SAGES COMMENT ON THE VERSE, "THE SONS OF KORAH DID NOT DIE" (BEMIDBAR 26:11), BUT A PLACE WAS SET FOR THEM IN GEHENOM. As a result, this song was recited on Monday IN THE TEMPLE. I approached them and said to them: What are you doing in this place? They replied: We are merchants, but twice weekly we leave our community to study Torah here because IN THE SETTLEMENT, WE ARE DISTURBED EACH DAY by people and they do not allow us TO STUDY TORAH. I replied to them: How fortunate is your lot.
9. Furthermore, they said: Every time that the righteous depart this world, there is likewise annulled from this world all the harsh decrees, and the death of the righteous brings forgiveness for the sins of the generation. Therefore, we read the portion dealing with the sons of Aaron on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to bring forgiveness for the sins of Yisrael. The Holy One, blessed be He, says, 'Contemplate the death of these pious ones, and it will be accredited for you, as if you offered sacrifice this day to attain forgiveness.' We have learned that as long as Yisrael will be in exile and neither be able to offer offerings on this day nor will they be able to offer the two goats, they will at least have the memory of the two sons of Aaron. Thus, it will serve as atonement for them.
10. We have learned that it is written, "These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests" (Bemidbar 3:3) and also, "Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Elazar and Itamar" (Ibid. 2). HE QUESTIONS: It should read: 'And Elazar and Itamar' JUST LIKE IT SAYS "AND ABIHU," so why write "Elazar and Itamar?" WHY DELETE THE CONNECTING 'AND' (VAV) FROM ELAZAR? HE ANSWERS: Abihu was equal to his two brothers. The VERSE EQUATES ABIHU TO ELAZAR AND ITAMAR, and Nadab is equal to all the others.