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                            parshat naso

Rabbi Bernstein

Numbers 6


1The Lord spoke to Moses saying:


אוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָֹ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:

2Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them: A man or woman who sets himself apart by making a nazirite vow to abstain for the sake of the Lord.


בדַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אִ֣ישׁ אֽוֹ־אִשָּׁ֗ה כִּ֤י יַפְלִא֙ לִנְדֹּר֙ נֶ֣דֶר נָזִ֔יר לְהַזִּ֖יר לַֽיהוָֹֽה:


This week’s Torah portion contains yet another very important mitzvah. The vow of the Nazir. The placement of this commandment within the Torah is interesting. The vow of the Nazir comes immediately after the mitzvah of the Sotah, the wife accused of straying from her husband. The valve the Nazir comes immediately before the Birkat Kohanim, the Aaronic benediction.

The commandment of the Sotah is a commandment that Hashem gives us that is never intended to be done. Whether the wife is guilty or innocent, after she is brought to the Kohayn and the Sotah is performed, the marriage is over. If she is guilty and yet goes through with the ceremony, she will die. If she is innocent, and her husband forces her to go through the ceremony, she will never trust him again. Either way, the marriage is over, so why bother with the ritual at all?

The threefold blessing, immediately following the commandment for the vow of the Nazir, is intended to be done every single day. Hashem explains that when the Kohayns recite the threefold blessing, He will bless Israel. The threefold blessing was part of every single sacrificial ceremony in the Mishkan, and the Temple every single day.

The vow of the Nazir is clearly intended to be done. It is also, clearly, not intended to be done casually or commonly. It is to be done, but not often. What, then, is the purpose of taking the vow of the Nazir?

In Numbers 6:2, we see that one of the purposes of the Nazirite vow is to set apart the man or the woman who makes the vow. Normally, the term used for setting apart is קדוש. However, in this verse, another word is used,פלא . It is a stative verb, that is, a firm indicating a condition rather than an action. The word itself means a wonder. The concept, rather than being set apart, is more to become wondrous, and other words, a visible testimony to Hashem. According to the commandment, one becomes a Nazir, wondrous, for only a specified period of time. Scripturally, instances of being wondrous for one’s entire life are rare. We see, by placement in the Torah, that the vow of the Nazir is intended to be taken by people more often than that.

Today we have no Temple. May it be rebuilt. Soon, and in our days. Until then we may not take the vow of the Nazir. As David Paul and other followers of Yeshua in the book of Acts. But there is an aspect of the vow of the Nazir that we should pay attention to, becoming wondrous. It is within our power to become wondrous, to be a living testimony to the wonder and oracles of Hashem. We may call it different things. We may say, “let the light of Messiah shine through you,” or, “let everyone see Messiah in you.” The concept is the same, we are being visibly wondrous, living testimonies to Hashem and Messiah Yeshua. Shabbat shalom.



Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784