19. The two sons of Aaron offered a foreign fire, as they did not unify His Name properly and, therefore, were consumed in fire. Rabbi Yitzchak stated that it is written, "After the death" and it is later written, "and died" IN THE SAME VERSE. If it states "after the death of the two sons of Aaron" (Vayikra 16:1), wouldn't I know that they died? HE ANSWERS: We are taught that there were two deaths, one before Hashem and one because they left no children, for one who does not merit children is CONSIDERED dead. For this reason, it is written, "After the death...and died;" NAMELY, "AFTER THE DEATH" IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD LITERALLY AND "AND DIED" REFERS TO THEIR NOT HAVING CHILDREN.
20. Rabbi Aba said that it is written, "And Nadab and Abihu died before Hashem, when they offered a foreign fire before Hashem in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Elazar and Itamar ministered in the priest's office" (Bemidbar 3:4). HE QUESTIONS: What connection does one have with the other in saying, "And they had no children: and Elazar and Itamar ministered in the priest's office?" DID THE LATTER INHERIT THE PRIESTHOOD FROM NADAB AND ABIHU BECAUSE THEY WERE CHILDLESS? HE ANSWERS: This is what I have said THAT they died because they had no children AND WERE CONSIDERED AS IF DEAD. This is definite, but not like other people even though they did not marry, for they died only a physical death and not a spiritual one.
21. From where do we know THAT THEY DID NOT DIE A SPIRITUAL DEATH? For it is written, "And Elazar, son of Aaron took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bore him Pinchas: these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families" (Shemot 6:25). HE QUESTIONS: IT SAYS "these," yet Pinchas alone is mentioned, and it says, "heads of the fathers of the Levites" OF PINCHAS ALONE. THIS IS BECAUSE NADAB AND ABIHU WERE REINCARNATED IN PINCHAS; THEREFORE, THE VERSE READS OF HIM, "THESE ARE THE HEADS," A PLURAL EXPRESSION. According to this, their deaths were physical not spiritual, as THEY WERE REINCARNATED IN PINCHAS. Rabbi Elazar said: THIS IS SO and it is understood WHEN IT IS WRITTEN ABOUT HIM, "These," A PLURAL EXPRESSION. It is likewise inherent WHEN IT IS WRITTEN ABOUT HIM, "Heads," A PLURAL EXPRESSION.
22. Due to this, it is written, "Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest" (Bemidbar 25:7) and also it is written, "And Pinchas son of Elazar, son of Aaron" (Shoftim 20:28) was a priest in those days. It should simply read: 'Pinchas, the son of Elazar the priest;' WHY MENTION "SON OF AARON THE PRIEST?" He wished to tell us that whenever Pinchas is mentioned, IT IS WRITTEN, "son of Aaron the priest." BUT WITH REGARD TO ELAZAR, it is only written, "Elazar the priest" AND NO MENTION OF SON OF AARON, as we find written, "Before Elazar the priest" (Bemidbar 27:21) or "And Elazar the priest said" (Bemidbar 31:21). THIS IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT NADAB AND ABIHU, SONS OF AARON, WERE REINCARNATED IN PINCHAS; THEREFORE, THE VERSE MENTIONS 'SON OF AARON' REGARDING HIM. Consequently, their deaths were physical but spiritually they did not die, AS THEY WERE REINCARNATED IN PINCHAS.
23. We have learned from the secret of the Mishnah THAT THE NAME PINCHAS IS FORMED FROM two NAMES, WHICH CONSTITUTE a pair, Pin and Chas. Indeed, Pinchas is spelled with a small Yud-PE YUD NUN CHET SAMECH-for the Yud incorporates the two together. This is the profound explanation that we have already been taught.
24. Rabbi Elazar inquired of his father: Behold, NADAB AND ABIHU were two individuals, why were there not two, MEANING WHY WERE THEY NOT REINCARNATED INTO TWO PEOPLE, BUT ONLY IN PINCHAS? He replied: Each was a half body because they did not marry, AND ONE WHO DOES NOT MARRY IS CONSIDERED A HALF PERSON. For this reason, the two are incorporated in one, as it is written, "And she bore him Pinchas: these are the heads."
25. The Yud in Pinchas was put in him to enjoin the letters only when he has been zealous for the Holy One, blessed be He, and came to straighten that which was crooked upon seeing the sign of the member of the Holy Covenant that Zimri inserted into another territory. NADAB AND ABIHU were corrected here from their earlier deviation, for NADAB AND ABIHU deviated in a foreign female, as it is written, "When they offered a foreign fire" (Bemidbar 3:4). They were corrected through the foreign woman THAT PINCHAS SLEW, as it is written, "And has married the daughter of a strange El" (Malachi 2:11). Just as in the first case there was a foreign fire, here too was a foreign woman.
26. HE QUESTIONS: What is apparent here, MEANING WHAT IS THE CONNECTION BETWEEN A FOREIGN FIRE TO A FOREIGN WOMAN? HE ANSWERS: At the beginning, they brought near TO THE HOLINESS something that was far removed FROM HOLINESS AND DEFILED THE HOLINESS, as it is written, "When they offered a foreign fire." Here too, Zimri COMMITTED THE VERY SAME SIN in that he brought near THAT which was far FROM HOLINESS (NAMELY, THE FOREIGN WOMAN TO THE HOLINESS) BECAUSE he brought near the name of the King, THE SIGN OF THE HOLY COVENANT, to the distant one - NAMELY, THE FOREIGN WOMAN. Immediately, "When Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation" (Bemidbar 25:7). At this point, he corrected the earlier crookedness. Then the Yud was added to his name to enjoin the letters together, THE SECRET OF YESOD THAT CONNECTS ZEIR ANPIN WITH MALCHUT. Thus, he was promised peace, WHICH IS YESOD REFERRED TO AS PEACE, as it is written, "Wherefore say, Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace" (Ibid. 12), My very covenant, NAMELY YESOD.
27. HE ASKS: What is this 'peace' we speak of here WHEN IT SAYS, "BEHOLD, I GIVE TO HIM MY COVENANT OF PEACE?" HE ANSWERS: At first they sinned against this Sfirah, YESOD, BY OFFERING FOREIGN FIRE, AS EARLIER MENTIONED. They damaged this Sfirah in instigating a quarrel BETWEEN ZEIR ANPIN AND MALCHUT, AS IT IS WRITTEN ABOVE. Now that it is corrected, it is written, "Behold I give him My covenant of peace," My actual covenant, NAMELY THE SFIRAH OF YESOD WHICH GOES BY THE NAME COVENANT. It will be at peace with him, NAMELY THE PEACE BETWEEN ZEIR ANPIN AND MALCHUT. For this reason, a small Yud was added to his name, WHICH HINTS AT YESOD, which is of the small letters to show that what was earlier crooked has already been corrected, MEANING THAT YESOD WHICH WAS CURVED EARLIER HAS BEEN STRAIGHTENED, AS WAS SAID BEFORE, and now MALCHUT is perfected through YESOD. Rabbi Elazar kissed his hands and said: Blessed is the Merciful One for allowing me to ask this thing so it should not get lost from me.
28. We have learned that Rabbi Yosi said: It was established to read this chapter OF THE SONS OF AARON on this day of Yom Kippur, in order to bring atonement for Yisrael in exile WHO ARE UNABLE TO OFFER SACRIFICES. For this reason the order OF SACRIFICES for this day, YOM KIPPUR, was established here IN THE PORTION ABOUT THE SONS OF AARON, AND RECITING IT COMES IN PLACE OF SACRIFICE. FURTHERMORE, the deaths of the sons of Aaron atone for Yisrael.