Torah Portion: Nasso (To Take or Do) B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
HafTorah: Judges 13:2-25
In this Torah section we read much about the duties of different groups of priests in the Mishkan (Tabernacle), then concluding with the entire chapter seven listing the offerings the tribes bring at the dedication of the Mishkan. However, in the middle of our reading we read a number of seemingly disconnected commandments covering a number of subjects including the laws concerning confession of sin, the Nazirite vow and the wayward wife.
I want us to look at a number of issues tonight and see what G-d has for us spiritually. First let us look at the isha sotoh or wayward wife. These verses are found in chapter 5:12-31. Here the law covers a woman who when told to not be alone with a man, defies her husband and sees the man alone. The Torah then goes on to give the way to prove or disprove her defilement and what happens in either case. In both cases she must drink the bitter water. I want us to explore how or if these verses have anything to say to us on a spiritual level.
Say G-d has given you/me a vision or a calling of what He wants for our life. We are sold out to this goal to be what G-d has set before use. You devote all your efforts to become what G-d has told you He has for you. Then life comes along with its ups and downs, challenges and problems. You, after a while, realize that you have swerved from the path, strayed from the vision. For whatever reason you have not been faithful to what G-d set before you. You have changed. You are no longer leading a life that takes you toward you calling. We ask ourselves, “Is there a way back? Has too much time passed?” You feel you need to look out for yourself. Life is more than some dream.
In these verses, the husband could just divorce his wife and end the story. However if he and she want to go on they ask the priest to enact the ceremony of the bitter waters. A barley offering is brought. Why barley? It is an animal food. It shows that the wife had let her flesh/animal instincts rule her for a while and she followed her own desires rather than her husband. If the bitter water proves she has not broken the marriage covenant the marriage can be restored. The vision can be recaptured and actually be stronger because of the trials of life.
Now spiritually what does this say to each of us? G-d is our husband. He never gives up on us. He wants us back even when we stray off the path. He stands ready. We will have to repent and confess (bitter waters) but He is there to renew our dreams. There is redemption when we stray, if we confess with our mouth. Our Husband will forgive us and restore us.
This brings me to another point – confession. In Numbers 5:5-7 we read about confession when we have sinned. Why is it important to confess with our mouth? As humans we are masters at seeing ourselves in the best light. We might think, “Oh I couldn’t have done that!” But when we own up to our sins by verbally speaking them out we own it so to speak. We hear it with our ears and the gravity of what we have done becomes not just something inside us. We hear it. We see it for what it is – sin. Romans 10:9 tells us that confession is necessary. Without it we can avoid our responsibility. It requires us also to confess to the person we have wronged if we have sinned against a person. Whatever they do with it is their issue but confession and repentance gets it out in the open and frees us spiritually. I would expect we all have had experiences we can share about both confessing and the consequences of not confessing and continuing to carry things in our heart. Unconfessed sins will have a huge impact on our lives spiritually. It puts a barrier between us and G-d and if left undealt with will cause us to grow cold and indifferent to the Father. Don’t carry around unconfessed sin in your life. Our G-d is always there to forgive.