Parshat Naso is the longest Parshah in the whole Torah featuring 176 verses! It contains story, laws and plenty of information! We left off at the end of Parshat Bamidbar with the counting of the descendants of all three of Levi’s sons and describing what the descendants of Levi were to carry in the wilderness. We learned that Kehath’s descendants were to carry the holiest items. This weeks reading relates that Gershon, the first born son of Levi was to carry the woven materials, curtains and the screens (Bamidbar 4:24). They also had the job of singing, chanting different Tehillim (psalms) every day, respective for the day of the week they were in.
The descendants of Merari, the youngest son of Levi, carried the bolts, sockets and boards of the Tabernacle (Bamidbar 4:31-33).
The parshah continues relating how Hashem commanded all the impure people to leave the camps (Bamidbar 5:1-4), we learn about the purity laws in Parshat Tazria and Metzora a few weeks back. We learn many laws, including, the mitzvah to confess ones transgressions verbally (Yoma 86-87). Repentance consists of; sincere regret for past misconduct, oral confession and a firm decision to never repeat it. In the Tanach we learn about people who sincerely repented, including, Reuven (Sota 7a), Rechav (Megillah 14b) and according to a Medrash even Pharaoh repented and became a huge Kiruv worker at the end of his life, when living in Nineveh, he is thought to have made the entire city repent to save themselves from destruction, as related in book of Jonah (Yonah 3:6).
The Torah then relates the law concerning a refund for theft to a convert who passed away and also an admonition not to withhold the dues of the Kohanim and Levites (Bamidbar 5:6-8).
The Parshah then concentrates on the commandment of the Sotah (Bamidbar 5:11-31), the procedure if a husband suspected his wife of adultery. If a husband warned his wife to stay away from mixing with other men or a specific man, she should listen to him. If she is suspected of being alone with another man, for a long enough period for something to have happened, she would be questioned and asked if she was guilty of adultary, if she claimed she was innocent, she would have to go through a whole humiliating procedure of drinking water in an earthenware vessel, this water would have had Hashem’s name erased into it (Sota 2a), this water would also be mixed with dust. If she was guilty, the water would cause the stomach and thighs pain and would lead to a painful death (Sota 20a), however if she was innocent, she would be able to give birth more easily or if she couldn’t give birth, she would now be able to (Sota 26a). Why does she have to go through all this humiliation if she is innocent? The answer is, she should not have put her into a position of making the husband jealous by giving other guys attention!
Also from this, we learn how Hashem values peace between husband and wife that he is even willing to erase his name in water for peace (Sota 2a)! Hashem rests his divine presence on a couple when they are at peace with each other.
Next up, the parshah discusses the laws on the Nazir (Bamidbar 6:1-21). A man or women that decided to become a Nazir, had to refrain for a minimum of 30 days (Nazir 5a) from drinking wine and all grape derivatives, shearing his/her hair and avoid having contact with the dead, for example not going to funerals (Makkot 21b). Hashem gives a Nazir a special strength as he has the power to abstain from all this (Nazir 4). We learn in the book of Judges that Shimshon (Shoftim 13: 2-25), was a Nazir by birth, and this gave him the power to defeat many Pelishtim and become a very successful leader of the Jewish people, he was from the tribe of Dan, at his death he killed thousands of the enemy, the Pelishtim (Sota 10). When a Nazir ended his term of Nezirut, he was not allowed to drink wine before offering some sacrifices.
The Parshah then relates the laws of the Priestly blessing in Hebrew known as Birkat Kohanim (Bamidbar 6: 22-27). The Kohanim were commanded to bless the Jewish people every day during the day time prayers (Sota 38-39), and they still do nowadays during morning prayers. The Kohanim blessed the people while standing, raising their hands, facing the community, pronouncing the blessings in Hebrew and they had to enunciate Hashem's four letter name as it is written. Aharon’s name is mentioned in the blessing as it was he who loved peace and brought peace wherever he noticed arguments or hatred (Sota 11). There are three parts to the priestly blessing. The blessing for wealth, the blessing to become more spiritual and the blessing for peace.
The Parshah then dedicates many verses describing the offerings of the Leader of each tribe. They brought their offerings in the order they traveled in the wilderness, Yehudah's leader, Nachshon, brought the first offering (Bamidbar 7:12). The twelfth offering on the twelfth day was brought by the leader of the tribe of Naftali, named Achira ben Ainan. The seventh day of the offerings was the turn of the leader of the tribe of Ephraim; he was named Elishama Ben Amihud (Bamidbar 7:48/ Yevamot 6a). Despite that it was Shabbat; he was permitted to bring this offering as a reward for his forefather, Joseph. We learned in Parshat Mikaitz, that when Joseph was in Egypt, he invited his brothers to dine in his place, ordering his son, Menashe to prepare Shabbat meals on Friday morning. Despite the fact that the Torah wasn’t given at that point, he had respect for Shabbat, he was rewarded with the honour of his descendant to bring a personal sacrifice on behalf of the tribe that night (Bamidbar Rabbah 14:9). Each tribe brought identical offerings but with different good intentions, for example they each brought a silver bowl, a spoon with Ketoret, one ram, one lamb and much more!
The Parshah is concluded relating how the goal of the Tabernacle (Mishkan) was achieved (Bamidbar 7:89).
The Haftorah for this weeks reading comes from the book of Judges, Chapter 13 (Shoftim 13: 2-25). The Haftorah is connected to this weeks reading as it describes how before Shimshon was born, he was to become a Nazrite. The Haftorah describes that at a time of divine mercy, Hashem chose a righteous but simple couple from the tribe of Dan, the man being named Manoah, was to be the father of Shimshon, in the merit of his righteous wife. An angel commanded his wife to prepare for the birth of her child even before she conceived. She was commanded to make him a Nazrite from his birth date.
I would like to dedicate this Dvar Torah to Yehudah Leib Ben Ita Bat Tzion who has had a very painful kidney stone, please pray for him to make a full and healthy recovery.