Weekly Reading Insights: Naso 5766

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Naso

To be read on 7 Sivan 5766 (June 2-3)

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

Pirkei Avot: Chapter 1

Naso is the 2nd Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 35th overall, and 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 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:3566/Naso)

As stated in the verse in Gen. 15:19, "The Kenites and the Keneezites...."
Now you might say that the name "Keni" comes from the Hebrew word for a bird's nest ["ken"] because they made a temporary home in the desert, like a bird that fashions himself a temporary nest. They left their cities and went to the desert to learn Torah.

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:3566/Naso)

The color white indicates mercy, as opposed to red or black, which indicate judgment. As a person ages and his hair turns white, his youthful insistence on having his way generally calms and he becomes more able to appreciate the other side of issues.

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

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From Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) Ibn Atar (O:3566/Naso)

The reason that G-d commanded for the earth to be added to the water and not vice versa is based on the waters having been created before the earth during the process of creation. When our sages decided that if the earth had been in the vessel before the water the whole procedure is null and void, they did not nullify the procedure in the event that both water and earth had been poured into the vessel simultaneously. The reason is that such a procedure still resembles the order of Creation when water and solid particles were thoroughly mixed up before G-d created the light. We do not find that earth is ever at the bottom of the source of spring water however.

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


"The L-rd make His face shine upon you...the L-rd lift up His countenance to you." (6:25-26)
It is written in the holy Zohar that the letters of G-d's Name engraved on the golden plate on the High Priest's headdress were luminous. Anyone looking at them was filled with awe; this created an arousal to return to G-d in repentance, and the person's sins would be atoned for. In other words, through the luminous letters ("the L-rd make His face shine") the Jews repented (allowing G-d's countenance to be "lifted up"), and their sins were forgiven.
(Kotnot Or)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"The one who offered his offering on the first day ("bayom harishon") was Nachshon the son of Aminadav, of the tribe of Judah." (Num. 7:12)
Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value. The sum of "bayom harishon" is 620, which is the same as "keter," crown. This alludes to the fact that Judah, the tribe to which Nachshon belonged, was the progenitor of the Jewish monarchy (including Moshiach, a descendant of King David).
(Ohr HaTorah) (from LChaim #671)

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:3566/Naso)

We will read the Ten Commandments on Shavuot (Thursday night to Shabbat, or to Sunday night outside of Israel), on Friday morning (be there!), when we celebrate G-d giving the Torah to the Jews on Mt. Sinai. Shavuot and G-d's giving of the Ten Commandments have a special significance that affects our entire year. The Ten Commandments begin with the words "G-d spoke all of these things to say". Many commentaries ask the same question: The words used in the beginning and end of the verse, "spoke" and "to say" are used throughout the Torah when G-d requires that the information be transmitted to people who were not present at that specific time. And yet it is a basic tenet of Judaism that all the Jewish people were present at Mt. Sinai, even the souls of those yet to live; they all heard the Ten Commandments. If so, why do we need the word "to say"?

Rabbi Dov Ber, known as the "Magid of Mezrich", was the main student of the Baal Shem Tov. He answers by explaining that the whole purpose of giving the Torah on Mt. Sinai was to infuse the Ten Commandments of the Torah (as hinted by the word "spoke"), into the Ten Utterances with which G-d created the world - "Let there be light", "Let there be a firmament", etc. (hinted at in the verse by the word "to say"). The Ten Commandments were spoken to the entire world in order to link and arrange them in relation to the Ten Utterances. This is the reason these two words are used here.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains how we can apply this teaching in our relationship to the world and to better serve G-d. It is our job to cause the light of the Torah, as embodied in the Ten Commandments and Jewish tradition, to illuminate the physical aspects of the world, as exemplified by the Ten Utterances. Religion and the world are not separate (contrary to the belief that when you are in synagogue you act one way, and in the "real" world you act differently).

A Jew is not only required, he or she is actually empowered, to act according to rules and standards of the Torah in all aspects of life. Clearly, the focus here is not about those things that the Torah forbids, like eating pork or stealing, but rather specifically about things that the Torah permits. We have to infuse those areas with Jewish energy, not to get lost in the physical. For example, when we eat, to remind ourselves that since the destruction of the Temple, the kitchen table is like the altar. When we pray, we are like the High Priest in his intimate relationship to G-d. Even sleep is so our soul can ascend to heaven, to be refreshed, so we can again awake and serve G-d with all of our strength. As Shavuot approaches, let each of us make a resolution to take some part of our lives in which until now the world dictated how we were to behave, and imbue it with the light of Torah, allowing us to elevate it and make it holy.

This directive to take initiative is also found in this week's Torah portion. "Naso" hints to the essence of the entire portion and therefore indicates what is expected of us during the week. "Naso" means "to carry" or "to raise up". This week we are commanded to see ourselves on an elevated level - that we are not just followers, but also leaders. No matter what a person's current situation, in some area they have the ability to lead, to influence someone else for the good. Just as the poorest person is also required to fulfill giving charity to help another, even a person poor in knowledge can still direct someone else, who is on a lower level, in a positive way.

Similarly, the word "naso", "to raise", is telling us that when faced with an obstacle, we have the strength of "Naso" - to rise above and overcome this difficulty. Everything we do this week is with this ability. With this knowledge nothing can stop us from fulfilling our goals!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.

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