Moral Failure in Leadership: Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater

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Rabbi Eric Tokajer

Notice in this verse who is called by G-D to go up the mountain: Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu. Yes, this is the same Nadab and Abihu about whom we read in Leviticus 10:1-2: “Now Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own censer, put fire in it, laid incense over it, and offered unauthorized fire before Adonai—which He had not commanded them. So fire came out from the presence of Adonai and consumed them. So they died before Adonai.” 

So, we see that in Exodus 24, G-D specifically called Nadab and Abihu, and from that time until Leviticus 9, they faithfully walked in their calling and served G-D. Then, in Leviticus 10, we find them committing such a sin that G-D consumes them with fire. 

From the text of the Bible, we are shown without any doubt that G-D had called Nadab and Abihu to the ministry. From the Bible, we see that they faithfully served G-D in that ministry for a period of time, and from the Bible, we see them willfully sin against G-D while actively serving in their ministry roles. 

From this biblical narrative, we learn that someone can be called by G-D to the ministry, serve faithfully and then fall into sin. Their sin may disqualify them from future service, but their sin doesn’t invalidate the fact that they were called, nor does it invalidate any of the righteous ministry they performed between their calling to ministry and their fall into sin. We cannot judge G-D’s choice to call them by their choice to sin. 

If the example of Nadab and Abihu isn’t enough, just look at Abraham, who was called by G-D to be the father of a great nation, but displayed a lack of faith when he lied twice about his wife and slept with his maid. Or Moses who was called to lead the children of Israel into the promised land only to sin by beating the rock, thus becoming unable to fulfill his calling. Even Judas was called to be a disciple only to betray Yeshua for 30 pieces of silver.

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Eric Tokajer is the author of Overcoming Fearlessness, What If Everything You Were Taught About the Ten Commandments Was Wrong?, With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer, Jesus Is to Christianity as Pasta Is to Italians and Galatians in Context. Visit his website at

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