This week's Torah portion, Shmini, includes the story of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron who offered "strange fire" at the altar of Adonai and were struck down for so doing.
It's a harrowing tale, particularly for those of us who favor the occasional liturgical innovation. Orthodox rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch famously drew an analogy between Nadab and Abihu and Reform and Conservative leaders who presume to make changes in Jewish tradition. It's easy to read this as a parable of why Jewish religious practice needs to stay the same: because the Holy Blessed One smites those who dare to make changes in the determined order of things. Easy...but simplistic. And limited. And arguably incorrect.
That's from my post this week at Radical Torah. Which I could summarize, but really, you might as well just read the thing I wrote, right? Here's the post: Why innovative prayer isn't "strange fire". Enjoy!