Parshat Naso


This week’s portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.

Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given: 1) restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin — goes to the Cohanim 2) If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony 3) If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow 4) the Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing: “May the L-rd bless you and guard over you. May the L-rd make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the L-rd lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace.”

The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.

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Dvar Torah
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

The Torah states:

“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘So shall you bless the Children of Israel: saying to them, “May G-d bless you and safeguard you. May G-d make His countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you. May G-d lift His countenance to you and establish peace for you.” ‘ ”

Immediately prior to the Kohanim delivering the blessing, they say, “He (G-d) commanded us to bless His nation, Israel with love.” Where in the above commandment do we find any reference to blessing Israel with love?

Perhaps the interpretation is not only that they should deliver the blessing with love, i.e., that the Kohanim should feel love for Israel when blessing them, that also that “with love” is the content of the blessing. The blessing is that Israel should feel love, that they should have love for one another. According to this interpretation, it lies well within the commandment.

The blessing culminates that G-d should bless Israel with peace. The blessing of peace can be merited only when there is love among Jews. When there is dissension and strife among Jews, they cannot expect to enjoy the blessing of peace.

We long for and pray for peace. However, the key to peace is in our own hands. If we can overlook the differences between us, many of which are the result of self-centeredness, and achieve love for one another, we will merit the Divine blessing of shalom.

In addition to meaning “peace,” shalom can also be read as shaleim, “whole.” If we are fragmented rather than whole, we cannot have the shalom of peace.

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