Lamentations: Third Kinah – Stanza 1 Line 4
“They shall bewail the conflagration that God has ignited.”: Vayikra 10:6 “But your kinsmen all the house of Israel shall bewail the burning that God has wrought.” This refers to the
burning of Nadav and Avihu when they brought a “strange fire” into the Mishkan.
Moshe made it clear to his brother Aharon that the fire was used to establish boundaries for the Mishkan. Boundaries are synonymous with Kedusha, holiness.
When the Kinah refers to the fire that God has ignited he is drawing a parallel between the fire that consumed the sons of Aharon and that which destroyed the Beis Hamikdash. God’s house could not continue to exist while the Jews were so impure.
The Temple could not maintain its sanctity when the people were no longer holy. We must restore our holiness in order to rebuild the Beis Hamikdash.
It is tempting to constantly draw stricter boundaries around us believing that this is the way to restore sanctity to our lives and undo the fire of God. Yet when someone crosses one of the new boundaries they feel that they have forfeited everything and they begin a downward spiral.
We must teach how to maintain realistic boundaries that are less external and superficial and more internally meaningful. For example, if a young woman experiments with modern clothing we should not approach her, and should not teach her to look at herself, as if she has crossed the boundary into rebellion and is lost from the fold.
If our boundaries are dress codes without an explanation of human dignity, it remains external, the way someone dresses, and superficial; it does not necessarily reflect the inner core of the person. Someone who doesn’t want to wear a black hat has crossed an external boundary. It does not mean that he has broken all his links to the Yeshiva world. Our dress code is based on externals. They are superficial. They do not nurture the sense of dignity that is essential for true tzniut. A boy who wears jeans has broken a superficial boundary. It does not have to mean that he is no longer religious.
If we don’t want our children to wear jeans we have to explain to them why not. We have to nurture a strong inner sense of royalty so that he will not want to wear jeans. Our boundaries are not the boundaries of God’s fire. Nadav and Avihu crossed a boundary in their service of God. It was not an act of rebellion. The boundaries we need must have passion and must be more focused on our Avodas Hashem.