Torah Portion Naso(Lift) Numbers (B’Midbar) 4-7
Haftorah Reading: Judges 13:2-25
Tonight our Torah portion is named Naso. It covers the census of the people, followed by a listing of the material making up the Mishkan and who was responsible to carry each piece. It also covers the laws pertaining to the Nazarite vow, the suspected unfaithful wife and the bringing of the gifts by the princes of Israel and ending with the priestly blessing.
There is a general theme that is covered throughout this portion that we see in the very first verse (Numbers 4:21) by the use of Naso and continuing until the end. That theme is that each person is important in G-d’s eyes. The words each person used in the preceding sentence should be understood in its very broadest sense of “everyone.”
The meaning of Naso is translated here as “Take” however it is so much more than just a matter of counting the people. Its true meaning is to “Lift.” So in our first verse it should be translated as, “Lift up the head.” This accurate translation gives a whole new meaning to the verse. It speaks of the value of each person in G-d’s eyes, as His creation, made in His image. We are each unique.
In the ancient world and even in our world today, most of the world looks at people as one of a mass of people, usually indistinguishable from the mass that makes up the group. People become just numbers.
Here we see each person as someone who is not just a number but as one who has individual value. In a fundamental way, we all are children of G-d, some good and some not so good. But each one, judged on their own worth, each one is looked at as a person. As a person and not just a number. We are required to see every other person as an individual with needs, a life, desires and goals. As G-d’s people we are especially called to treat everyone not as a number but as a person who matters, created in the image of G-d. G-d loves each of us and we are called to carry that love to the world, to lift the head of the down trodden, the poor, the stranger. They deserve no less. So this little word Naso changes everything about how the people are seen here in our verses. They each needed their heads to be lifted, to be encouraged and reminded they were children of the King.
The bringing of the gifts by the princes of Israel reinforces this same idea. When we read from Numbers 7:2-84 it seems as though these could have been written a bit shorter, maybe listing the names and only going through the offering one time rather than repeating the same verses over and over 12 times.
I think G-d is making a point. G-d sees each of them, loves each of them the same, as individuals. To make that point each is listed by name and his gift is spelled out each time. G-d saw them not as just a group but as individuals. He knew them by name as He does us.
I pray each of us will spend time this coming week praying and thinking about what it means to us individually to be a child of the King, created in His image, loved by Him personally. I also pray we can use this understanding as we go through our days and interact with the world, seeing each person as a child of the King. Who knows, maybe their might need their head lifted by a kind word, a gentle smile or an understanding ear.