Commentators on the death of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, have advanced numerous reasons as to why their death was deserved. The one with the greatest relevance to today’s world is that their act of bringing “strange fire” was related to religious ecstasy, in this instance associated with drug use in the form of alcohol. The message is that the fire of religious passion must be controlled.
A passionate religion not guided by the yoke of reason is dangerous. Despite the practical irrelevance of sacrifices in the modern world, Rabbi Jacob Milgraum, in his wordy commentary on Leviticus, contends that the sacrifices of 2000 years ago expressed every emotional and psychological need of the human being. The sacrificial system, he wrote, has never been replaced by the prayers of the synagogue.