Shavuot/Parshat Naso 5784: The Nazir, the Kehunah, Shavuot and 7 October

Shalom Friends;

Our combined Shavuot and Parsha Naso vort is being sponsored by David and Tzippora Leichter of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas his Grandmother, Sarah bat Yehuda and dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and that they’re brought home whole physically, mentally and spiritually as well as for the good health and security of kol Am Yisrael. To the Leichter family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3


Shavuot/Parshat Naso 5784: The Nazir, the Kehunah, Shavuot and 7 October

by Moshe Burt

The placement in Torah of Parshat Naso in close proximity to the Yom Tov of Shavuot is with good reason as this author sees a direct connection between the two. This year, again, Shavuot precedes Shabbos Parshat Naso

Midway in our Parshat Naso, Hashem speaks to Moshe Rabbeinu regarding the Nazir, who takes a “vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem” :

“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, ‘Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and say to them: A man or a woman who shall dissociate [verb (used with object) to break the association of; separate] himself by taking a Nazirut vow of abstinence for the sake of Hashem;…. To his father or to his mother, to his brother or to his sister — he shall not contaminate himself to them upon their death, for the crown of his G’d is upon his head.'” (Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posukim 1 and 7 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash explains citing Sforno (page 759) :

“The crown of his G’d is upon his head.” Like a Kohen Godol (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Vayikra Perek 21, posuk 11), the Nazir may not let anything interrupt the devotion he has accepted upon himself.

Nazir – Crown. As the most constantly visible sign of his devotion, the Nazir’s hair is a crown of loyalty to Hashem.

As the Nazir, for the period of his Nazirut, seems, in a way, equated with Kohanim regarding their closeness and connection to Hashem, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah,” (page 314) entitles his vort on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 7 :

“The true king is one who is free from desires.”

The Ibn Ezra writes: “The term “nazir” (the person who takes a vow to abstain from wine) comes from the Hebrew word meaning “crown.” …Almost all people are slaves to the pleasures of the world. The only person who is truly a king and has the royal crown on his head is someone who is free from desires.

People who are addicted to pleasures might mistakenly view themselves as fortunate that they have so much pleasure. But the truth is that they are enslaved by those pleasures. When they don’t have them, they feel the suffering of deprivation. Their thoughts are fixated on what they can do to obtain their desires.

Happiness is a much more sensible goal than pleasure, and the way to acquire happiness is by being in control of one’s desires. When you derive pleasure from self-discipline, your situation is reversed. You will be free from worrying about obtaining desires and you will constantly experience the pleasure of being the ruler over yourself.

Every time you experience self-discipline view yourself as a king: you are obtaining mastery over yourself. The pleasure you have from self-discipline will enable you to rule over your desires.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin writes in his discussion of our Parsha Naso, in his Sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Bamidbar (page 32) :

Numerous commentaries address the potential link between the textual section concerning nazirut and the section immediately following, delineating the laws of Birkat Kohanim. The Ibn Ezra simply states that after discussing the Nazir, an individual of sanctified status, the Torah turns its attention to another sanctified group, the Kohanim. (Rabbi Goldin citing Ibn Ezra on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 23) The Abravanel, and centuries later, the Alshich maintain that the textual message strikes deeper. The path toward sanctity need not be inherited, as in the case of the Kehunah, but can be earned, as in the case of Nazirut. (Rabbi Goldin citing Abravanel on Sefer Bamidbar, Perek 6, posuk 1,

The opening posukim of Megillat Ruth portrays Elimelech’s stinginess — a lack of kindness, what this author sees as one of many offshoots of addiction to pleasures and desires. The Artscroll Shavuot Machsor renders to English the first three posukim of Megillat Ruth and provides background notes (pages 488 – 489) :

“And it happened in the days when Judges judged, that there was a famine in the land, and a man went from Betlechem in Yehudah to sojourn in the fields of Moav, he, his wife, and his two sons. The man’s name was Elimelech, his wife’s name was Naomi, and his two sons were named Machlon and Kilion, Ephratim of Betlechem in Yehudah. They came to the field of Moav and there they remained. Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.”

According to the Sefer Hadaros and Tzemach David, the episode happened approximately in the year 2787 (973 BCE).

“A man went.” The Targum here translates: “a great man.” Elimelech was very wealthy and did not want all the impoverished people to knock at his door for help. For this he was punished. (Artscroll Shavuot Machsor citing Rashi)

“He, his wife and his two sons.” He [Elimelech] was the prime mover, his wife secondary to him, and his two sons secondary to both of them. (Artscroll Shavuot Machsor citing Midrash)

“And there they remained.” Although it was their original intention to only sojourn temporarily in the fields of Moav, nevertheless, once they arrived, they decided to settle permanently. (Artscroll Shavuot Machsor citing Malbim)

Elimelech, not Naomi, was punished because, as the verse tells us, he was Naomi’s husband, and she was subject to his authority. Therefore, the onus of the sin was thrust upon him. (Artscroll Shavuot Machsor citing Rashi, Malbim)

Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal, Z”l, The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva discusses the Yom Tov of Shavuot in his Sefer, “Inspiration and Insight,” Vol. 2 — Discourses on the Holidays and Other Themes (Translated and Arranged by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, page 53) :

Ma’amad Har Sinai, the Revelation at Har Sinai, was an awesome event, one without parallel….

The Revelation left people trembling with fear, and they requested that from then on Hashem’s commands be communicated to them through… Moshe Rabbeinu…. “and Hashem shall no longer speak to us, lest we die.” (Rabbi Segal citing Sefer Shemot, Perek 20, posuk 16)

“Moshe said to the people; ‘Do not be afraid, for in order to raise you up did Hashem appear, and so that His awe will be upon your faces so that you will not sin.” (ibid, Perek 20, posuk 17)

[The] translation follows Rashi, who interprets “nasot” to mean ‘raise up’: “[The purpose of the Revelation was] to make you great in the world; your fame will spread among the nations, for Hashem, in His Glory, revealed Himself to you.”

The Jews were faced with a difficult test only weeks after they received the Torah. Moshe ascended to Shemayim the day after Torah was given. Before ascending, he informed the people that he would return in forty days. The people counted the days until their leader would return.

Unfortunately, the Am Yisrael failed this test by way of the Egel Zahav (the Golden Calf)

Rabbi Segal continues (ibid, page 58 – 59) :

Man’s purpose in this world is to attain spiritual perfection so that he can merit… great reward in the World to Come. Life in this world is an endless series of tests. With each test that he passes, one climbs a rung on the ladder to d’veikus, attachment to Hashem, and earns himself eternal reward in the Next World.

Man finds himself (on this world) in the midst of a raging battle, for all the matters in this world, whether for good or for bad, are in fact, tests of man… If he will struggle valiantly and victoriously on all fronts, then he will become the man of perfection who will merit to attach himself to the Creator. He will depart the ‘hallway’ [which is this world] and enter the ‘palace’ (that is the World to Come) to bask in the light of life. (Rabbi Segal citing Mesilas Yesharim, Chapter 1)

In facing the challenges of life, we must never forget that Hashem would not place us in a given situation were we unable of overcome whatever tests that situation presents. (Rabbi Segal citing Ramban on Sefer Breish’t, Perek 22, posuk 1) It is for us to garner our spiritual abilities and scale the heights of d’veikus.

Each person’s life has its own set of trials and tribulations. At the same time, each generation as a whole is faced with communal tests, as were the Jews in the Wilderness.

And so too, the lives of a prime minister, governmental leaders and military high command.

With these discussions in mind, we can connect dissociation from, and freedom from desires and the commemoration of Matan Torah on Shavuot, and contrast this freedom from lusts and desires with the decades of engrained Israeli governmental and military leadership’s unbridled desire, i.e. lust for power, which to this author, represent another of many offshoots of addiction to pleasures and desires. And we witness the resultant consequences of the latter — the expulsions, nineteen years ago, of thousands of Jews — former residents of Gush Katif leading to recurrent rocket, mortar shell and fiery balloon attacks and Israeli retaliations and, finally climaxing on 7 October — with mass murderous pogromim and slaughter of Jews not seen since the Sho’a, the taking of 250 plus Jews and foreigners taken hostage, attacks upon Israel on multiple fronts and the ensuing nearly seven months of war.

Elimelech’s desires and pleasures (terms used in the citing above by Rabbi Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah”) — love and care for his money, and his resultant punishment, as well as the deaths of both sons leaving their Moavi wives widowed led to a great Tovah, our story read on Shavuot — Megillat Ruth, who faithfully followed her mother-in-law Naomi in her return to Eretz Yisrael, where she (Ruth) meets Boaz while gleaning barley in his field. Boaz marries Ruth and she bares a child named Oved, who fathered Yishai, who subsequently fathered Dovid HaMelech.

So too, we pray that our governmental leadership and military high command, despite their many past power lusts and pleasure addictions, passes the supreme test of our time, and makes the right strategic moves, meriting the Yad Hashem, and thus, Total, Complete Victory and a Unified Am Yisrael.

May it be that our Chayalim, regardless of the machinations of their high command, emerge totally victorious — eradicating from the face of the earth Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, that the Chayalim return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and brought home to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chag Kosher V’Some’ach and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.