Weekly Reading Insights

Naso 5763

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Naso. (outside Israel: Shavuot)
To be read on 7 Sivan 5763 (June 7)


For mystical and other insights for the Shavuot festival, go to holidays and kabbala.

Torah: Num.4:21-7:89; Haftorah: Judges 13:2-25
(the birth of Shimshon, connecting to the section about nazir)

Pirkei Avot - Chapter One

Stats: Naso, 2nd Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 35th overall, contains 7 positive mitzvot and 11 prohibitive mitzvot. It is written on 311 lines in a parchment Torah scroll, 1st out of 54 in overall length.


Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) opens with tallying the three Levite families and defining their specific services in the dismantling, carrying, and assembly of the Tabernacle throughout the Jews' desert journeys. Next, Jews with various types of impurities are forbidden to enter different sections of the camp. Then, G-d commands the Jews about the restitution for sinning against a fellow Jew. Also discussed is the command to bring 'trumah'-crop-gifts to the priests. Next, the Torah speaks about the suspected adulteress, the test of her fidelity, and the consequences of her guilt or innocence. The parsha continues to discuss the vows, laws and sacrifices of Nazirites. The following verses are the priestly blessing to the Jews (which are recited daily). The parsha concludes by listing the donations and sacrifices that each tribal prince brought to the Tabernacle.



Pesach and Sukkot, which commemorate physical events, may be celebrated in a purely spiritual manner, while Shavuot, which celebrates a spiritual event, must be celebrated in both a spiritual and physical manner. This is to teach us that at the time G-d gave us the Torah, the entire physical world was affected, and holiness permeated every corner of the world.

(Likutei Sichot) (LChaim #471)



"They shall confess the sin that they committed." (5:7)

The commandment to confess one's sins is the cornerstone of the mitzva of repentance. By mentioning it in connection with the sin of stealing, we learn a lesson. G-d gives every person a certain measure of strength and energy to be able to perform the mitzvot. By using that energy to commit a sin, he is "stealing" from G-d.

(Chidushei HaRim)


"Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying, 'So shall you bless the Children of Israel'." (6:23)

According to Jewish law, when the kohen recites the Priestly Blessing he must raise his hands and stretch them out. This teaches us that when someone is in need, we must do more than wish him well and bless him with whatever he needs. We must "raise our hands" and stretch them out -- we must actually do something to help them.

(Fun Unzer Alter Otzer)



Selected with permission and adapted from the three-volume English edition of Shney Luchot HaBrit -- the Sh'lah, as translated, condensed, and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known as the 'Sh'lah' - an acronym of the title, was born in Prague. A scholar of outstanding reputation, he served as chief Rabbi of Cracow, and more famously, of Frankfort (1610-1620). After his first wife passed away, he remarried and moved to Israel in 1621, where he became the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem. He later moved to Tiberias, where he is buried, near the tomb of the Rambam.


On the verse "Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of the gazelle" (Songs 4:5), Rashi comments that the expression shnei shadecha refers to the two stone tablets. They are described as "twins" because they were both of identical dimensions and contained five commandments each. The commandments parallel each other.

The injunction not to murder corresponds to the commandment that "I am the Lord Your
G-d," for the murderer diminishes the stature of G-d by destroying His handiwork.

The commandment not to have other gods corresponds to the prohibition of adultery, because the adulteress practices deceit of her husband, whereas the idol-worshipper practices infidelity against his Maker.

The commandment not to use the name of G-d in vain corresponds to the prohibition of stealing; in the end every thief will resort to a false oath to deny his deed.

The commandment to observe Shabbat and keep it holy corresponds to the prohibition of being a false witness; anyone who does not observe Shabbat testifies that G-d did not create the universe and rest on the seventh day.

The commandment to honor one's father and mother corresponds to the commandment not to covet; he who covets someone else's wife will ultimately sire children who will repudiate and curse him instead of honor him.

(adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Zefat on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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(W:35-63 Naso)

Beginning this Thursday evening and lasting through Shabbat (in Israel, only through Friday), is the holiday of Shavuot on which we celebrate receiving the Torah anew, but at a higher level than previously.

The opening verse of the Ten Commandments begins, "And the Lord spoke all of these things, to say". Each and every Jewish soul to ever exit was present at Mount Sinai, and heard the commandments from the Holy One Blessed Be He Himself. What is the meaning of the words, "to say"? If we were all there, as is taught, to whom must we say those words? The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that the answer is connected to the entire purpose of giving of the Torah.

The Talmud teaches that Avraham observed the entire Torah, including even the smallest detail, nearly five centuries before it was given. To be able to observe the Torah, Avraham most certainly had to learn it and would have taught it to his children. So for what reason did we need the big event of the 'giving of the Torah 3,315 years ago? The answer is that it gave each Jew then and through all future generations a relationship with the Torah in a manner of 'to say'!

As the Talmud says, our reading and studying of the Torah causes G-d to read and study the Torah across from us. This means that through learning the Torah, we cause G-d to say these words! Even more, we ourselves will continue 'to say'; we will repeat the words we hear from the Torah like an echo. All of our learning will not be just to know for ourselves, but to influence others to know also.

Lastly, the Ten Commandments, which are from a level of G-dliness higher than the world, parallel the 'Ten Utterances' by which G-d created the world and are part of the world. Chassidut teaches that by our studying Torah, we cause G-d to again bring the divine energy of the Ten Commandments into the Ten Utterances. So too, when a Jew studies Torah, the matter which was studied is transformed from something divine and abstract into a 'saying', something related to and part of the world.

This is what is special about the giving of the Torah, that G-d gave us the power to be like Him. Through our study of Torah we can transform Divinity into something physical.

This is the inner meaning of what the Rabbis said about a person not being free unless he or she studies Torah. Since Torah governs the world, when we study Torah no one can dominate us. On the contrary, we are the ones who rule the world.

Through this individual redemption each of experiences through Torah study, we will come to the full redemption when all of us will be free with the arrival of Mashiach.

Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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