Parshanut suggests three translations of the phrase, "Asher Lo Tzivah" (Vayikra: 10:1) There is basically a 2-way split concerning Nadav and Avihu (N&A) and their eish zara. The first two schools may help start a future Nishmablog poll, BE"H, though the third school is kinda' tangential.
- "They were commanded NOT" N&A were actually seeking to grow spiritually through transgressing the commandment NOT to bring such an eish zarah [Tur et. Al.] It literally went up in flames Don't serve Hashem by violating protocol
- "They were NOT commanded" - N&A added on an extra embellishments. They acted excessively "frum" and their zeal was their sin in their spiritual approach. This idea is very popular among Left-wing circles. Don't be mosif "humrot". [Bal tosif. Al t'hee tzaddiq harbei]
- This explanation can work for either side of the split. Since N&A brought ersatz K'toret, they were left unprotected to eish Hashem and vulnerable to a form of spiritual "radiation." Their action was not so much a sin as a failure to use real Ketoret. It was what they failed to do which allowed them to get burnt. [See Haforah of Uzah]. Genuine Ketoret was tantamount to a radiation suit; don't play with the rules lest you risk exposure.
Let me tell a related story.
There once lived a woman looking to add a spiritual dimension to her avodah. A Great Gadol, "Moshe," asked her to experiment by wearing a four-cornered garment without tzitzit. She felt exhilirated.
Moshe exclaimed, "For three months, you have been wearing a garment without any religious or halachic value, it is thus clear that your feeling comes from a source outside of the Mitzvah", and he [Moshe] did not grant her permission to wear a Talit " [Source?]
To which Avodah's R Micha Berger protested:
We do many things that come from sources outside the mitzvah. "Hinei Keil yeshuasi" before Havdalah, for example. The particular patterns of hand washing most qehillos use for neigl vasr or before hamotzi. Qabbalas Shabbos. Etc, etc, etc... Why is this woman wanting to do something that makes her feel connected to the Borei valueless just because it is non-halachic? Would this Gadol "Moshe" have given the same advice to NCSY and tell them to stop doing kumzitzin or a pre-havdalah "ebbing" for an hour? [Source??]
This offers us a segue towards a poll on valid paths to spirituality in Judaism. Which guidelines are permitted or desirable?