(This Torah Teaching is for Shabbat of May 22nd, 2020)
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Naso (נָשֹׂא)— Hebrew for “take a census” or “lift up,” is the sixth word in the 35th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה) in the annual cycle of Torah reading and covers Numbers 4:21–7:89. The parashah addresses priestly duties, purifying the camp, restitution for wrongs committed, the wife accused of unfaithfulness (sotah), the nazirite, the Priestly Blessing, and the consecration of the Tabernacle. Naso has the largest number of letters, words, and verses of any of the 54 weekly Torah portions.
Parsha Naso Summary
Completing the headcount of the Children of Israel taken in the Sinai Desert, a total of 8,580 Levitemen between the ages of 30 and 50 are counted in a tally of those who will be doing the actual work of transporting the Tabernacle.
God communicates to Moses the law of the sotah, the wayward wife suspected of unfaithfulness to her husband. Also given is the law of the nazir, who forswears wine, lets his or her hair grow long, and is forbidden to become contaminated through contact with a dead body. (It is this section that is reflected in the haftarah portion about Samson in the book of Judges below.)
Aaron and his descendants, the kohanim, are instructed on how to bless the people of Israel.
The Priestly Blessing (Num. 6:22-27)
22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to blessthe Israelites. Say to them:
24 “‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’
27 “In so placing my name on them, I will bless them.”
It is in the knowledge of how to pronouce and place the true Holy name on our children that truely brings a blessing upon them… (Just as every child takes their father’s name and every bride takes her husband’s name, the children of Israel are God’s children and bride! This is why it is so important to be grafted in to Israel even if you cannot trace your ancestral roots.)
The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel then each bring their offerings for the inauguration of the altar. Although their gifts are identical, each is brought on a different day and is individually described by the Torah.
This week’s haftorah describes the birth of Samson, a lifetime nazirite. An appropriat haftorah for this week’s reading, which discusses all the laws of the nazirite.
Manoah and his wife, members of the Tribe of Dan, were childless. One day an angel appeared to Manoah’s wife, informing her that she will give birth to a child. This child, the angel instructed, was to be a lifetime Nazirite. In addition, the angel instructed her to abstain from all foods forbidden to a nazirite — such as wine or ritually impure foods — from the moment she would conceive. The angel further informed the woman that her son will save the Jewish people from the Philistine oppression they were enduring at that time.
The soon-to-be-mother told her husband the good news. He entreated God to send His messenger again — they were unaware at the time that the messenger was an angel. God sent the angel again, and he repeated his instructions. Manoah and his wife then invited the angel to partake of a special meal they would prepare, but he declined. Instead he encouraged Manoah to offer the goat he wished to slaughter for the meal as a sacrifice to God. The angel then ascended to the heavens in the flame that devoured the sacrifice.
The haftorah ends with the birth of Samson: “And the lad grew, and God blessed him.”
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Torah Parashah teaching with video and audio and illustrations by Rabbi Isaac. © 2021 Assembly of Called-Out Believers. Use by Permission.