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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Boy Who Danced

Parshat Shemini brings us to the inauguration of the savrifice, an introduction to kosher animals, fish and birds. It is the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, Aaron’s sons that I would like to talk about this morning.

The rabbis go to great lengths to explain both the deaths of Nadav and Avihu and also the resulting silence of Aaron. Sometimes though, there are no words to explain or perhaps there are words that go on forever to explain.

The Boy Who Danced Cumbia

Once there was a boy who lived not far from the sea.

His skin was silky soft,

his temperament peppery

and his eyes were deep pools of

melted chocolate.

He danced cumbia, made mischief as boys do.

He learned and played hard

and his name, meaning judged by

God makes one wonder.

And it was very good.

One day,

an unforgettable day,

A fire came down from the sky;

not a fire that burst forth

and consumed its subject in a blink of an eye,

but a fire that took its time

and devoured its subject over months

until the boy was no more.

And one winter day his soul soared like an eagle,

(Or perhaps as a football, as the boy might say)

Far and high

Above the clouds,

Above the fire

Above all earthly worries.

And on that day the boy, so loved,

became a memory in our hearts

which will last forever.

Once there was a mother and a father

who loved the boy with the chocolate eyes,

who adored the boy who danced and ran;

the boy with long arms and legs.

They loved him more than life itself.

And as the fire consumed the boy

they were silent

for their words were lost in the smoke.

Their voices were burned in the fire.

The fire sucked the oxygen

from their mouths and their souls.

And the silence was a hammer

that pounded them to the ground,

lost and uncomprehending

from where the fire came

and what the fire meant.

But after a moment

A long moment that lasted days, months, years

The father and the mother slowly found their words once again.

The words were found in unexpected places.

In memories,

in the embraces of those they loved

and in the words of prayer

And even in the power of words themselves.

Words, fire and silence.

Silence, fire and words.

God above, always a mystery

And a boy with chocolate eyes

who loved to dance.


Some poems are inexplicable.

Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered before יהוה alien fire, which had not been enjoined upon them.

And fire came forth from יהוה and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of*at the instance of Others “before.” יהוה.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what יהוה meant by saying: Through those near to Me I show Myself holy, And gain glory before all the people.”And Aaron was silent.

Leviticus 10:1-3

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