In this week’s Parashah, the Torah lists several different Halachot and Mitzvot regarding animals and the Mishkan. The beginning of the 10th Perek of VaYikra deals with the deaths of Nadav and Avihu. Regarding the incident, Rashi (VaYikra 10:2 s.v. VaTeitzei Eish) quotes the opinion of Rabban Gamliel, who states that the reason that they were killed was because they were intoxicated while sacrificing their Korban in the Mishkan. To warn us against repeating the sin, the Torah subsequently presents the Halachah prohibiting the performance of Avodah in the Mishkan while intoxicated. In the very next Perek, the Torah presents Halachot of Kashrut. What is the connection between Hilchot HaMikdash and that which we are and are not allowed to eat? Furthermore, why do we even need to be selective about the animals that we eat in the first place?
We suggest that the common theme between the two Perakim is Kedushah. The reason for the prohibition of doing Avodah while intoxicated is, as the Pasuk states, "ULeHavdil Bein HaKodesh UVein HaChol UVein HaTamei UVein HaTahor," "And to separate between the holy and the unholy, and between the impure and the pure” (10:10). Following this, the Torah discusses the Korban Minchah, including that we leave it by the Mizbei'ach because it is Kodesh Kodashim, the holy of the holy. The next Perek, after listing the animals which we may or may not eat, states that the purpose is, "Ki Ani Hashem Elokeichem VeHitkadishtem ViHyitem Kedoshim Ki Kadosh Ani VeLo TiTamu Et Nafshoteichem BeChol HaSheretz HaRomeis Al HaAretz" "For I am Hashem your God and you are to sanctify yourselves and you shall become holy for I am holy; and you shall not contaminate yourselves through any teeming thing that creeps unto the earth" (11:44). As we can see, there are thematic similarities between the prohibition of performing Avodat HaMishkan while intoxicated and the Halachot dealing with edible foods.
Based on this, we can connect the two subjects. Hashem requires that we perform Mitzvot while maintaining a certain level of Kedushah. There is clearly something impure about performing the Avodat HaMishkan while intoxicated, which is why Nadav and Avihu were killed. They did not have the proper amount of Kedushah during their Avodah. We therefore learn that we must seek the proper amount of Kedushah to put ourselves in the right mindset when doing the Mitzvot of the Mishkan. This also holds true with the Halachot of Kashrut. We are commanded to observe the Halachot of Kashrut to be certain that we are on the appropriate level of Kedushah during the performance of other Mitzvot.
We can even extend this to all Mitzvot as a whole. When first introducing the topic of Kashrut, the Hashem tells Moshe, "Dabru El Bnei Yisrael Leimor, Zot HaChayah Asher Tochlu Mikol HaBeheimah Asher Al HaAretz," "'Speak to the Bnei Yisrael saying, these are the creatures that you may eat from among the animals that are upon the earth…'" (11:2). Rashi explains (s.v. Zot HaChayah) that the Torah uses the word “Chayah” specifically because of its root word of Chayim, which means life. He comments that Hashem recognized that the Bnei Yisrael were prepared to live full and fulfilling lives, and therefore separated them from Tum’ah and gave them Mitzvot. Based on this Rashi, we see that the laws of Kashrut represent Mitzvot as a whole. The purpose of Mitzvot is to allow us to separate from the Tum’ah. So, too, the laws of Kashrut and Avodat HaMishkan explicitly require us to do the same. However, as with both Avodat HaMishkan and Kashrut, all Mitzvot are not a one-way street where Hashem automatically relieves us of Tum’ah. Rather, we must be proactive when doing Mitzvot to ensure that when we do them, we are in fact separating from Tum’ah and internalizing the Tahor.