Parashat Nasso 5783

May 30, 2023

Rabbi Greg Schindler (’09)

There’s a cartoon I once saw where a guru in a loincloth sits cross-legged at the top of a mountain. Before him is a matronly-looking woman in Western clothes who has climbed almost to the summit. The caption: “Murray, darling, when are you coming home?” Many of us have the idea that a life of holiness means a life of privation. What does Judaism have to say about this? In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Nasso, we read about the nazir. This is a man or woman who “explicitly utters a nazirite’s vow, to set themselves apart for G-d.” (Num. 6:2) Having made this vow, the nazir takes on three restrictions: 1. No wine or strong drink, 2. No haircuts, and 3. Not being near someone who has died. Three people in Tanakh seem to have fit the description of a nazir: – Samson, whose mother was told by an angel: “You are going to conceive and bear a son; let...

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Parashat Naso 5782

June 10, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah What’s Your “Work Work”? A D’var Torah for Parashat Naso By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg The original sacred ritual space of the Jewish people, the Mishkan, was portable. Whenever the Israelites moved from place to place in the wilderness, the Mishkan would be disassembled and transported to its next location. The Levites were the ones in charge of its porterage, and the different families of the Levites each had different holy objects to carry whenever the Mishkan would travel with the people from place to place. This is the context for one of the more unusual verses in the Torah, a verse in the beginning of the book of Numbers (Parashat Naso), that describes the Levites’ roles. After specifying that the Levites were to work from age 30 to age 50, the Torah (Numbers 4:47) divides the labors of the Levites into two categories, referred to by the Hebrew...

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Parashat Naso 5781

May 21, 2021

A D’var Torah for Parashat Naso By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Our parasha this week, Naso, contains a passage recited daily as part of the traditional liturgy, which many parents also use to bless their children each Friday night: The priestly blessing (Num. 6:22-27): The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: The Lord bless you and protect you! The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you! The Lord bestow God’s favor upon you and grant you peace! Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them. There is a lot to unpack in this text, but for the moment I want to focus in on the last line of the trifold blessing: “The Lord bestow God’s favor upon you...

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Parashat Naso 5780

June 4, 2020

When It Really Is About The Patriarchy A D’var Torah for Parshat Naso By Rabbi David Markus Dedicated to the family of George Floyd, and peaceful change makers everywhere. I open this week’s Torah portion (Naso), and I cringe. I read of ancient ways to serve in the Mishkan – all tribal men of a certain age. I read of Sotah trials, humiliating women to placate jealous husbands. Even the Threefold Blessing, phrased free of gender, was harnessed to aim first at Kohanim – only men (B.T. Hullin 49a, Rashi Num. 6:27). Thankfully we’ve become adept at redeeming Torah from patriarchy. Some see Torah as socially developmental, meeting our ancestors only just a bit ahead of their Bronze Age context so that Torah would be practical. We might note that Torah itself responded to the Sotah trial by restoring an innocent Sotah woman’s power: a false-accuser husband never could divorce her...

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Parashat Naso 5779

June 14, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Naso By Rabbi Heidi Hoover (’11) Last week’s Torah portion, Bemidbar, started with a lot of counting of Israelites. This week’s Torah portion, Naso, also begins with counting. The word “Naso” means “take up,” as in “Take up a census of the Gershonites also” (Numbers 4:22). The counting in this Torah portion is of different clans of the Levites who have responsibilities to pack up and transport different parts of the Tabernacle when the Israelites decamp and move on through the wilderness. We are told the final counts: There are 2,750 Kohathites between the ages of 30 and 50—which are the years when the Levites are responsible for the work of the Tabernacle; there are 2,630 Gershonites; and there are 3,200 Merarites, for a total of 8,580 Levites. This seems like rather a lot of people for the task of packing and moving the Tabernacle...

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