Naso – Perasha Synopsis

This Perasha continues from last week’s counting and description of the responsibilities of the two remaining Levite families, Gershon and Merari.  The tasks of the Leviim were to be supervised by Aharon and the Kohanim.

The concept of Sotah is introduced. Sotah is a woman who behaved in an unseemly manner, giving her husband good reason to suspect her of adultery, but there is no proof of either guilt or innocence. She is subjected to a miraculous process that will either prove her guilt or show conclusively her innocence and thereby restore trust and love to the marriage. The process included the drinking of “Bitter Waters”. This is the only procedure in Judaism that depends on a supernatural intervention, which occurred until the Second Temple era when it was discontinued by the Sanhedrin when the nation was no longer worthy of this miracle. The purpose of this ordeal was twofold: a) to penalize adultery and uproot immorality and b) to foster trust between man and wife. It is a psychological reality that once a husband suspects his wife, he will not trust her even if a court rules that he is wrong. Legal decisions seldom change emotions, only G-d’s own testimony, so to speak, would be convincing enough.

In this Perasha we learn the definition of a Nazir, one who takes a vow to abstain from drinking wine or grape products, from cutting his hair, and from being in close touch with the dead. Nazirism is a state of holiness that is incompatible with these activities, and yet this behavior is not encouraged by Hashem. Nonetheless the Torah provides guidelines for one who takes this vow of abstinence upon himself.

Prior to erecting the Mishkan- Tabernacle, Moshe is instructed to cleanse the camp of any ritual and spiritual impurity since the Divine Presence was to be present in the Mishkan. These included any Mesora’a, and any one in close touch with a cadaver.  The Perasha concludes with the famous “Priestly Blessing” of the Kohanim which is customarily recited during prayer times, and the assembly of the Mishkan. On the day that the Tabernacle is completed, the head of each tribe brings an offering. Each day another leader participates in this process. At the end of twelve days the Tabernacle was dedicated and presented with offerings reflecting the number of tribes in Bene Yisrael. Moshe enters the Tent of Meeting in the Tabernacle, and he hears Hashem’s voice frombetween the two Kerubim on the ark.

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