Weekly Reading Insights: Naso 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Naso

To be read on 9 Sivan 5764 (May 29nd )
Torah: Numbers 4:21-7:89
Haftorah: Judges 13:2-25 (the birth of Shimshon, connecting to the section about nazir)

Naso is the 2nd Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 35th overall, and 1st out of 54 in overall length.

Pirkei Avot: Chapter One

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 scarifices 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.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:35-64/Naso)

This is referred to in the verse "And I will bring this third through the fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined and will test them as gold is tested; they shall call on My name, and I will hear them. I will say, 'It is My people'; and they shall say, 'The L-rd is my G-d'." (Zachariah 13:9)

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:35-64/Naso)

A person whose sexuality is warped is considered "blemished", while one whose sexuality is on track is considered "complete". This idea is closely allied, obviously, with the relationship between yesod and "peace" mentioned previously.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:35-64/Naso)

G-d's original plan, we must remember, was to give the Torah to Adam. This is why Adam was created.... Adam had been the "firstborn" of all humanity, since he was the first human being ever.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"The L-rd make His face shine unto you." (6:25)
G-d's "face," as it were, is symbolic of His innermost will and love; "unto you" implies the Jewish people and the realm of holiness. Although everything in the world is sustained by G-d, things which are not holy receive a lesser vitality that emanates from a more external aspect of the Divine Will. An analogy: When the king throws a banquet for his royal ministers, even the household servants get to enjoy the leftovers. Nonetheless, the servants' enjoyment is secondary; the king's main intent is to please his guests.
(Kuntreis U'Maayan)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:35-64/Naso)

In connection with Shavuot (from Tuesday night through Thursday in the Diaspora) and the giving of the Torah, there is a widely discussed section from the Talmud (Shabbat 88b), that relates the following: When Moshe ascended to the heavens (to receive the Torah), the angels said to G-d, 'Master of the universe, what is a 'born of woman' doing among us?' G-d answered, ' To receive the Torah'. The angels countered, 'This hidden treasure, You want to give it to a 'flesh and blood'! Why them more than us? Give Your glory to the heavens!' they begged. G-d told Moshe to respond to the angels. 'Master of the universe, this Torah that you want to give us, what is written in it? I am the Lord your G-d who took you from Egypt. Did you angels ever go to Egypt? Were you slaves to Pharaoh? Have you lived among the nations that serve idols? Do you work, do you do business, do you have parents, do you have an evil inclination?' Immediately G-d accepted Moshe's position. Discussion closed.

At face value it seems silly. What would an angel do with the Torah since it is filled with physical commandments that angels cannot perform? But from a Torah perspective (and one thing about angels is that they are experts in Torah), there is actually a logic to their claim that they should receive the Torah based on the law known as 'baal metzra'. When a person wishes to sell his property, the 'baal metzra'-adjoining neighbor-has first rights to it since it is helpful to him that his field conjoin with his neighbor's. This was the angels' argument: they would learn the Torah as a spiritual text since the Torah is at its source a heavenly document, so why shouldn't they be the ones given the Torah.

To refute the angels' argument, various commentaries provide responses: baal metzra refers only to land, and the Torah is not land. It applies only to something that is sold, and the Torah is a gift. The Jewish people are G-d's children, and the laws of baal metzra do not apply to transactions with a person's children. Moshe was almost like an angel, so he was also a baal metzra for the Torah. Baal metzra does not apply to a partner, and Moshe was like a partner to G-d (See Shabbat 10a).

However, it turns out that each of these defensive responses can be rebutted, making the angels right. But that is because none of them took into account the original response, what Moshe actually answered the angels, that the Torah's place must be with a physical recipient, who lives with the challenges of the material world and can perform physical mitzvahs.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the purpose of the Torah is to create a dwelling place for G-d in this plane, the lowest of all the created worlds. And just as the essence of a person is in his home more than anywhere else, so also, G-d wanted His essence to be drawn into this world in order for this to be His 'home'. This divine desire can only be actualized by the Torah being fulfilled in this world. When we do G-d's commandments and learn His Torah with our physical bodies and minds, we literally bring G-d's essence into this plane, something an angel is incapable of doing.

This fact automatically negates the angels' pre-eminence also on a legal basis. When a person can choose to sell his property to one of two buyers, one who is a neighbor and wants to plant a field, and the other is a non-neighbor who wants to build a house, the law is to sell to the house builder. The reason is that dwelling on a property is preferable to planting, and the law of baal metzra is pre-empted.

This is what Moshe answered the angels. Since an angel does not have a corporeal body with which to perform the commandments and make this physical world a home for G-d, the entire argument of 'a neighbor' becomes irrelevant.

Also, the upper spiritual planes need us to have the Torah too. When this lowest world is enlightened with G-d's essence, all the upper worlds are enlightened as a result, just as when you lift a tall stack of boxes, you pick them up from the bottom box. This is why the Torah was given to us humans in this world, so we can elevate all of creation in all the worlds.

This year, when we celebrate the Giving of the Torah on Shavuot, let's remember in order to fulfill the purpose of making our world a home for G-d, we must DO the Torah. May we all receive the Torah with joy making it a reality in our essence and our lives.

This week's Torah portion, Naso, includes the Priestly blessing (6/22-27). Still today the Priests of the community come to the front of the synagogue and bless the congregation. Outside of Israel the priests do so only on the major holidays, whereas in Israel the blessing is said every day, or every Shabbat, or every musaf prayer, depending on the community's custom. There are many explanations of the opening words of the blessing, "koh tivorchu'-'so you shall bless'-that are quoted from the beginning of G-d instructing Moshe about the blessings that the Priests bestow. 'So you shall bless' can mean that the blessings should not be translated into a different language; 'so you shall bless' can mean that only the priests should do the blessing and not other members of the community; 'so you shall bless' can refer to how the priests should stand with upraised hands when they bless the Jewish people.

Rebbe Yisroel, the Mudjnitzer Rebbe, had another explanation. 'So you shall bless', he said, refers to the Jewish people. G-d forbid, that a Priest should stand in judgment of the people saying that they are not worthy of his blessings until they fix some negative trait first. This is why G-d prefaces the blessings with the words, 'So you shall bless', is to remind the priests that the commandment is to bless the community 'as they are', at whatever level they currently are. Everyone, no matter how lowly or lacking, is always worthy of being blessed.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach, Shaul Leiter

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