‎ Naso / To Elevate
Numbers 4:21-7:89
HafTorah Portion Judges 13:2-25
Acts 21:17-26

      The Blessing of Being….
           Naso is a word of many meanings: to lift, to carry, and to forgive. Here though, and elsewhere in the wilderness years, it is used, with the phrase et rosh (“the head”) to mean “to count.” This is interesting because Hebrew has many words that mean to count: limnotlisporlifkod, and lachshov. Why then not use one of these words? Why not simply say “count” instead of “lift the head”?
     The sages teach that if we are each made in the image of God, then every one of us has infinite value. We are each unique. None of us can take the place of another. We are one, in God, made in the image and the likeness of God. "You are children to The Lord” Deuteronomy 14:1, was said to Klal Yisrael, all of Israel. Every person is dear to God.
     This parsha continues with what seems to be a collection of unrelated items. First there is the account of the Levitical families of Gershon and Merari and their tasks in carrying parts of the Tabernacle when the Israelites journeyed. Then, after two brief laws about removing unclean people from the camp and about restitution, there comes the strange ordeal of the Sotah, the woman suspected by her husband of adultery.
     Next comes the law of the Nazirite, the person who voluntarily and usually for a fixed period took on himself special holiness restrictions, among them the renunciation of wine and grape products, of haircuts, and of defilement by contact with a dead body.
     This is followed, again seemingly with no connection, by one of the oldest prayers in the world still in continuous use: the priestly blessings. Then, with inexplicable repetitiousness, comes the account of the gifts brought by the princes of each tribe at the dedication of the Tabernacle, a series of long paragraphs repeated no less than twelve times, since each prince brought an identical offering.
     How can we tie this all together? Looking closely at all of the encounters in Naso, we see a connection. Starting with the Aaronic Blessing, which is a gift of peace. A gift to all people, a gift that contains the very essence of God – shalom. It is a petition to God ‘…may The Lord bless you and keep you…and give you peace/shalom.’ It is a universal desire – to have peace granted from the very God we serve. Unfortunately, when we don’t acknowledge Him, or connect with Him, we lack the shalom that sustains us in all things.  We try to achieve peace ourselves, which may be for a moment, but the level of peace that He bestows upon us sees us through all journeys. 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ‘Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.’
     One way that we lack peace is when we transgress another. By transgressing one another we forfeit the very thinking that we are all made in the image of God. Numbers 5:6-7 states “Speak to the children of Israel: ‘When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the Lord, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged.”  This implies that when we sin against another, we actually sin against God.  We also learn that there is no atonement for sin unless we confess our sins, 1 John 1:8-10 '
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.' When we have injured another, we need to repent/return teshuva to the path that we wondered from.  
     Naso closes with the detailed offerings of the tribes; ‘Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of their fathers’ houses, who were the leaders of the tribes and over those who were numbered, made an offering. And they brought their offering before the Lord, six covered carts and twelve oxen, a cart for every two of the leaders, and for each one an ox; and they presented them before the tabernacle.’ Numbers 7:2-3.
     This continues with the detailed accounting of the offering of the twelve tribes, each offering identical.  Why not just state once that every leader of the tribes brought the same offering that we read in Numbers 7:13-17.‘… His offering was one silver platter, the weight of which was one hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 14 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 15 one young bull, one ram, and one male lamb in its first year, as a burnt offering; 16 one kid of the goats as a sin offering; 17 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings: two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs in their first year.’
     As in Naso, to lift up or to elevate, it was the purpose of the repetitious listing of the identical offerings to bring honor to each tribe.  Pirki Avos, Ethics of the Fathers state in 4:1 “Who is honored?” asked Ben Zoma “One who honors others.”  Philippians 2:3-4 ‘Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.’
    Each tribe was bringing their offering to God, showing honor to Him.  Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.” Psalm 22:23 ‘You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel.’

 

 


 


 

 

 

נָשֹׂא
Naso / To Elevate
Numbers 4:1-7:89
HafTorah Portion   Judges 13:2-25
Brit Chadasha  Acts 21:17-26

     Peace…

     This Torah portion, Naso seems to be an accounting of unrelated items. First there is the account of the Levitical families of Gershon and Merari and their jobs in carrying parts of the Tabernacle when the Israelites journeyed. Then, after the instructions concerning the removal of unclean people from the camp including confession and restitution, there is the law regarding the unfaithful wife.
     Chapter 6 begins with the law of the Nazarite vow where a person voluntarily and usually for a certain amount of time adheres to special holiness restrictions, including a separation from wine, grape products, the cutting of hair,  and contact with a dead body.
     This is immediately followed with one of the oldest prayers in the world still in use in Synagogues and Christian churches alike; the Aaronic Blessing.  Right after the blessing is the detailed account of the offerings of the leaders of the twelve tribes for twelve days at the dedication of the Tabernacle, repeated twelve times, with each leader bringing an identical offering. This might seem redundant spending so much time describing an event that could have been stated once.  The key answer lies in the last word of the priestly blessing: shalom, peace.
    The Spanish Jewish commentator Rabbi Isaac Arama explains that shalom does not mean merely the absence of war or strife. It means completeness, perfection, the harmonious working of a complex system, integrated diversity, a state in which everything is in its proper place and all is at one with the physical and ethical laws governing the universe.  Isaac Abrabanel writes, “That is why God is called peace, because it is He who binds the world together and orders all things according to their particular character and posture. For when things are in their proper order, peace will reign.”
     In Genesis God brings order out of tohu va –vohu, chaos, thus creating a world here everything has its place. Peace exists as a whole.  The concept of peace as a constant through God is woven throughout the Scriptures, with God being the common thread.  Without God, Torah and Yeshua, there is no peace.
     Peace in in Yeshua:  John 16:33’ I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
     Peace is Him: 2 Thessalonians 3:16 ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.’
     He keeps us in peace: Isaiah 26:3 ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.’
    Torah brings peace:  Psalm 119:165 ‘Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.’
     Baruch HaShem~

 נָשֹׂא
Naso / Elevate
Numbers 4:21-7:89

     This Torah portion continues with the counting of the Israelites and the transporting of the Tabernacle. Naso also contains the laws concerning the adulterous wife and the Nazarite vow.  In chapter 6 are the instructions to bless the people of Israel and Naso concludes with the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel each bringing their offerings for the inauguration of the altar.  It is interesting that even though their gifts are identical, they are brought on different days and each gift is individually described.
      We see Naso in the Prophets and the Renewed Covenant concerning some major points.
     Ephraim is compared to the wayward wife in the book of Hosea as we have committed adultery by accepting other religions besides the Torah of God. We have strayed and become the harlot.  Yeshua in John 8:1-11 has a confrontation with the Pharisees regarding an adulterous woman where He brings to light not only the consequences, but the dust of the earth and the metaphor of judging.  
     Numbers 5:16 - ‘And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord.  The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put into the water.’
     Jeremiah 17:13 ‘O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.”
     John 8:6- ‘This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.’
     Yeshua refers to the prophet Jeremiah, completely reversing the consequences of sin in regards to the woman that was brought before Him. He now places the sin upon those that judge.
      The vow of the Nazir is a vow of separation, Numbers 6.  Judges 13 begins the Nazirite vow of Samson and is again in the book of Acts when Rabbi Shaul begins the Nazarite vow. They do not shave their heads after the vow has begun and they do not eat anything from the grape vine, and neither do they come into contact with anything that is dead. "So Paul still remained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and Priscilla and Aquila were with him. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there; but he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” Acts 18:18-21.
     The blessing in chapter 6 which is the Aaronic Blessing is an integral part of every synagogue and should be in every life.  God instructs this priestly blessing to be over His people, and then He states that they (Aaron and sons – the priests) shall put His name on the children of Israel, and then He will bless them.  ‘And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:  “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you; and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
      Yeshua is the High Priest and it is He who puts God’s Name on us as we enter into His Renewed Covenant.  John 14:6: ‘Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’
     Blessings in the Hebrew life are paramount in our connection with Elohim. Where many prayers are asking; a blessing offers praise, reverence, love and obedience to God, rather than to us in a petition. 
     We send our offerings of praise to Him in the form of a blessing, which is likened to the twelve tribes bringing their gifts to the altar in Numbers 7. ‘This was the dedication offering for the altar from the leaders of Israel, when it was anointed: twelve silver platters, twelve silver bowls, and twelve gold pans.’ Numbers 7:84. Hebrews 13:15 speaks to us to continue to offer up praises to God.
     The Torah portion Naso tells of the Biblical past, our present today and the future. It was a covenant God then, it is a covenant God now and it will be a covenant God for ever.
     Genesis 17:7 ‘"I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.’
      Jeremiah 32:40 "I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.
      Psalm 105:8 ‘He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
     Psalm 105:10 ‘Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant.’
     Psalm 111:5 ‘He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever.’
     Psalm 111:9 ‘He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name.’
     Isaiah 55:3 "Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.’ 
Baruch HaShem ~ Rabbi Jay