Torah Portion: Naso – Take B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
HafTorah: Judges 13:2-25
This week we read the longest Torah portion of the year. It starts by finishing up the counting and setting apart of the tribe of Levi for service in the Mishkan and ends with the offerings of all the Princes of Israel. Between these two subjects we read of many other groups or individuals such as the Nazarite, the woman suspected of adultery and people who were unclean.
I would like to cover several of these topics over the next few minutes. We can start with the woman suspected of adultery. Just a word here about this situation, in B’midbar (Num.) 5:12-13, this person was known as Isha Sotah, usually translated as a defiled woman. What is interesting is the use of the word Sotah. This word shares all the letters for the Hebrew word for idiot. So, the implication is that a person would only sin in a moment when they have taken leave of their rational mind. This caused me to think of each of us. When we know G-d, and His mercies, love and compassion, why do we sin? I think for a moment we simply stop thinking. Usually we know in our spirit when we are in danger of slipping. That’s the moment to take a deep breath and consider our actions before we cross the line and then must taste the bitter waters of our actions. If not, crossing that line becomes easier and easier until we no longer even notice and we find ourselves estranged from our Heavenly Father. Listen to that small voice that sounds the alarm in our spirit and don’t take that step.
Next, I want to say a few words about the end of the Parasha and the gifts brought by all the Princes of Israel. Notice the description of the gifts brought by each one is exactly the same. What is Torah saying to us in this? At one level G-d is saying each of them (and us) are important in His sight and deserves to be singled out as significant. On another level, it points out the effort and meaning each Prince attached to his opportunity to give back to the Father. None of them gave less. We too should be motivated by an intense feeling of worship and love of our G-d, as we take each opportunity to serve and bless Him by our actions, by our desire to please Him, and by being part of His family. This brings me to my last point.
I want us to look at the whole process of setting aside the Levites. Do you think each of them, on their own merit, deserved to be set aside as holy to the L-rd? Were they all the best candidates to be found in all of Israel? I think as we consider this we see a difference between how society does things and how G-d works when we look at our spiritual role in the world.
How does the world look at qualities that are to be pursued to be a success in life? Maybe first on the list would be education. To get the best job you need to spend time and make the effort to go to the best schools, dress for success, speak properly, read the right books, be able to fit in, conform to the standards of the secular world. Spiritual growth usually never enters in to how society looks at success. The prize goes to the best man. The one who works toward the model.
How is G-d’s society structured? As we look at this portion, one model emerges. It is like an army. The camp is set up like an army camp. People (tribes) are assigned roles to play. Each person is not asked what they want to do but rather, like an army with G-d as the commander, they are assigned their role. In an army everyone might not be initially thrilled with their duty station. G-d is more concerned with every task being covered, like a general would be. It no longer depends on a competition for a role but what does matter is that each person performs his task or duty so that the entire army wins. People’s success depends on their neighbor’s success. Each one looks out for the other and expects the same. As we go on in our spiritual life success is measured not by how well I do but how well we all do. My role in this success is to know what G-d wants from me and to do it to the best of my ability. This is the real meaning of the Golden Rule. This is how the body of Messiah is to function. Romans 12:4-5, G-d’s plan for His army has not changed. We all have a part to play.