THE STRANGE FIRE: ROMANTIC LOVE VS. TRUE LOVE
By Sherrie B. Miller
Nadav and Avihu,
sons of Aharon HaCohen were cut down in the prime of their lives while engaged in
the most Holy task of sacrificing the Holy sacrifices to Hashem.
What was their unforgivable “crime?”
They brought an “aish zara,” a strange or foreign fire that they were not commanded
According to the commentators this “strange fire” was the their extreme passion
in their Service of Hashem. One can sense their elation and ecstasy in the performance
of this sublime mitzvah! They were “high” on Torah, “high” on Hashem, thrilled and
excited beyond description.
It sounds like the perfect scenario; what more could the Almighty desire from His
constituents than total rapture and adulation?
The fact is that G-d was unhappy and unimpressed by this elusive show of emotions
and disregard for the seriousness and gravity of this moment of connection with
the Almighty. Hashem took severe measures to inculcate in the People for all eternity
to learn the essence and the fundamental nature of serving Hashem.
Unfortunately, we have been programmed in the TV and Hollywood era to look for “pizzaz,”
fireworks, passion and excitement in our relationships. We have been thrust into
a world of momentary pleasure, externality and amusement.
The “sacrifices” so central in our worship, are called karbanot, from the word kirvah,
closeness. The general terminology that is used for such offerings is called Avoda,
This is no mere coincidence between the notion of closeness and work, because in
the Hebrew language each word’s meaning and its root are intentional. The dictionary
is the only place where “success” comes before “work.”
To serve the Almighty properly, we are required to work! (a four letter word nowadays)
The work is done through the performance of 613 mitzvot. Although it may seem at
first glance to be difficult and tedious, making some feel like robots, its purpose
is to keep us engaged in a continuous relationship with the |Almighty. The effort
of the actions and the exertion in the Service is what ultimately binds us and connects
us to G-d.
Similarly, dating should be viewed as a trial period to uncover a prospective partner’s
ability to persist in actions that show caring and considerate manners over the
Just as the spectacle of fireworks dazzle and astound us for a matter of seconds,
so too they leave us empty and drained as they are rapidly extinguished.
Hashem is imparting to us the secret of a loving and lasting relationship; it is
not the short-lived high, or the overwhelming “wow” of a “turned on moment,” but
rather the long term and deliberate “sacrifices” that are not mere concessions,
but rather compassionate acts of love that draw us close to our partner. These efforts
do not always come effortlessly and naturally, but are investments of energy and
oomph to do things for him/her when it is not so convenient or advantageous for
me at that particular moment in time.
If all it takes to create real bonds is “fireworks” and great looking guys and gals,
then most of Hollywood’s cast of characters would be happily married, rather than
on their third and fourth marriages.
Let’s get back to basics and learn from the inappropriate and transitory rapture
of Nadav and Avihu, that lasting relationships must be paced and grounded in internal
considerations, such as wholesome character traits and the genuine ability to make
sacrifices, so that they can pass the test of time!
Sherrie Miller M.A.
Sherrie is the SawYouAtSinai ‘Article of the Week’ writer as well as a dedicated
SYAS matchmaker. Trained as an educational guidance counselor, group leader, pre-marital
coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher, Sherrie is dedicated to promoting
and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication skills in conjunction with
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Choices of the Heart, a preparation and enrichment program for nearly-wed and newly
wed couples, run by Sherrie Miller, focuses on teaching communication skills between
couples, using Jewish wisdom and Torah sources. The workshops offer tools to build
skills and realistic goals that empower young couples with on their way to establish
a Jewish home.
Having counseled singles and made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage,
Sherrie volunteers as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai.
Sherrie has a private practice in Jerusalem and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at
both 718-874-0677 (USA) and 054-475-5153 (Israel)
This Jewish Dating Column is brought to you by SawYouAtSinai, the Jewish Matchmaking
service. Articles are often written by Jewish matchmakers, to help Jewish singles