Naso/To Lift Up
Numbers 4:21-7:89
Judges 13:2-26
Acts 21:17-26

     This parsha begins with the duties and census of the Gershonites, the Merarites and the numbering of the Levitical Clans. Numbers 5 has the instructions for the purity of the camp, the restitution of wrongs and the test for the unfaithful wife. Chapter 6 contains the Nazarite vow and the priestly blessing. Naso ends with the twelve offerings of the twelve tribes. 
     There are many important concepts in this Torah portion, but two stand out regarding us today and the kahal -the congregation of His people. 
    Numbers 5 begins with instructions for the unclean, ‘…Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse. You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell.” And the children of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as the Lord spoke to Moses, so the children of Israel did.’ Numbers 5:2-4.
     The camp of today are the synagogues. We know that affliction of the skin, tzaraat, (often mistranslated as leprosy) is synonymous to gossip and unclean speech. We learn through Parsha Behaalotecha in Numbers 12 that this specific type of skin disease is the consequence of lashon hara. God strikes Miriam with tzaraat because she gossiped about Moses’ Kushite wife. Gossip affects the person who spreads it, making them unclean, is easily passed on, highly contagious, and affects everyone who comes into contact with it in anyway. This skin disease is a physical manifestation of a spiritual disease that is expressed through the mouth based on jealous thoughts. Jealousy easily adds to degrading thoughts and then crosses over into unclean speech. One must choose to open the gate of jealousy, or to not. 
     Numbers 5:11-31 is all about the spirit of jealousy. This spirit can cause unrelenting accusations like the case of the woman caught in adultery, John 8:1-11.
    Proverbs 14:30 ‘A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.’
    Proverbs 19:5 ‘A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.’
    James 3:14-16 ‘But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.’
     1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ‘Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…’
      Touching the dead is likened to the death realm of an unclean spiritual walk. Our spiritual death began in the Garden of Eden, ‘…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17. We are admonished to choose rightly, ‘I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…’ Deuteronomy 30:19.
     Numbers 7 contains the offerings of the leaders, Numbers 7:1-88. What is so interesting about these passages and offerings is that they are the exact same offerings.  Even though the offerings are brought by different men from the twelve tribes, the offerings are exactly the same and stranger yet, recorded for all twelve offerings. Why not record it once with an explanation at the end of each additional accounting of each tribe: ‘and they brought the same offering as_____?’   
     One thought is because of the unity of each tribe. Each person, each tribe has a different connection with God just as we do.  Each person, each family will identify with God in different and unique ways. However, within each person there is a coworking structure that of the synagogue where one are many and many are one. 
     Each offering was the same, ‘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.’ This detailed explanation of the offering is listed twelve times. 
     The offerings represented two opposite but complementary aspects of our relationship with God. First and foremost, they expressed the unity relationship between God and the people as a whole, the common denominator shared by everyone walking in His ways, in the Synagogues.  The essence of the soul, the nefesh, the experience of serving God as an Ivrit. All of this they shared, and because of this the offerings they brought were all the same.  No one was better than the other; there was no jealousy, nor envy.  Every offering was the same, but every Hebrew bringing the offering for their clan expressed their own relationship with Adonai. 
    For those that are in a community, a synagogue, this is a huge lesson for us today. Individually, we come before the Lord with our private praises and love. Collectively, we offer for the synagogue, the ‘camp’. 
     A synagogue has individual aspects, but we must coincide and work as a whole. A synagogue will not sustain itself if it is just for one individual or one family because there are many souls that contribute. Therefore, even though our personal offerings will differ, our communal offering, the wellbeing of the place that we worship, is collective. We are a whole. 
     1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ‘For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Messiah. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.’
     John 17:21 ‘That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.’
     Ephesians 4:3 ‘…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’
     Acts 4:32 ‘And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.’
    The final paragraph of Naso ends with a beautiful stance: ‘Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.’ Numbers 7:89.
     He speaks to us; we just have to listen.