And Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his fire-pan, and put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and brought before Hashem alien fire, which He had not commanded them. (Vayikra 10:1)
The Torah tells us that Aharon’s sons brought an offering without the command of Hashem.
The Shem m’Shmuel questions why they brought an offering if they were not commanded to do so, and I would like to expand on his answer. The Torah uses the word “tziva” in its description of the events of Aharon’s sons, and we also find a similar expression in the question of the wise son at the Pesach Seder. A possible meaning to the wise son’s question is: “If doing Torah and mitzvos is what gives a new dimension to life, then why does Hashem have to command us to do them? We should be self-motivated and overjoyed to have the eternal bliss of a mitzvah!”
I once heard from Rav Moshe Shapiro that the reason a mitzvah is called a “mitzvah” and not a “tzivui” (which is the grammatically correct term for a “commandment”) is because there is an idea of bringing us together with Hashem. The word for that in Lashon Hakodesh is צוותה.
So where did Aharon’s sons go wrong? They mistakenly thought that there was inherent goodness in the action of bringing an offering, which could then bring about a greater connection to Hashem. But in fact, the life-infusing aspect of a mitzvah is mainly due to the fact that Hashem commanded us to do it.
After meticulously keeping countless halachos, chumros, and minhagim for 7 days, Pesach is now behind us. Due to the ‘tzivuyim’, we are more connected to Hashem than we were before the chag. Now we are counting towards kabalas hatorah, at which time we will once again accept the ‘tzivuyim’. Let us all be thankful for the opportunity we had to connect to Hashem for those 7 days.