Torah Weekly

For the week ending 11 June 2005 / 4 Sivan 5765

Parshat Nasso

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah assigns the exact Mishkan-related tasks to be performed by the families of Gershon, Kehat, and Merari, the sons of Levi. A census reveals that over 8,000 men are ready for such service. All those ritually impure are to be sent out of the encampments. If a person, after having sworn in court to the contrary, confesses that he wrongfully retained his neighbors property, he has to pay an additional fifth of the base-price of the object and bring a guilt offering as atonement. If the claimant has already passed away without heirs, the payments are made to a kohen. In certain circumstances, a husband who suspects that his wife had been unfaithful brings her to the Temple. A kohen prepares a drink of water mixed with dust from the Temple floor and a special ink that was used for inscribing G-ds Name on a piece of parchment. If she is innocent, the potion does not harm her; rather it brings a blessing of children. If she is guilty, she suffers a supernatural death. A nazir is one who vows to dedicate himself to G-d for a specific period of time. He must abstain from all grape products, grow his hair and avoid contact with corpses. At the end of this period he shaves his head and brings special offerings. The kohanim are commanded to bless the people. The Mishkan is completed and dedicated on the first day of Nisan in the second year after the Exodus. The prince of each tribe makes a communal gift to help transport the Mishkan, as well as donating identical individual gifts of gold, silver, animal and meal offerings.


The Most Important Person In The World

"Take a census of the sons of Gershon, as well" (4:22)

The road to success is crowded with people coming back, runs a popular adage. I think it reveals a lot about the society we live in.

In most peoples eyes, success is some kind of pinnacle. Its the top of the tree, the top of the mountain, and only the few can make it there. For the rest of us, well, we can dream.

Our success-society has its own myths and literature, its own canon of gods and demigods, whether they sing, dance or manipulate a leather ball with balletic dexterity. We want to know what our favorite celebs have for breakfast, who clothes them, which car they drive, and their views on everything from politics to potholing.

And for the rest of us, well not everyone can be a winner, can they?

Judaism says, yes, everyone can be a winner. Success is not a rat-race between me and the next guy; its between me and myself. There only rat-race in life is between me and the rat inside me: Theres the rat of selfishness; the rat of gluttony; the rat of laziness; the rat of depression. Inside each and every one of us we all have our own little rat-pack gnawing away. Success in life is beating out the rats before they beat us out.

This weeks Torah portion starts off with the following sentence "Take a census of the sons of Gershon, as well" The Hebrew word here used to mean "to take a census" can be literally translated as "to raise up the head."

What has census-taking got to do with raising peoples heads?

In last weeks portion, the Torah describes in detail the duties of the Bnei Kehat. During the travels of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) through desert, the Bnei Kehat carried its most sacred parts. The Bnei Gershon carried parts of lesser sanctity. In order that they should not consider themselves less important in any way than the Bnei Kehat, the Torah instructs Moshe to "raise up their heads, as well," to elevate the Bnei Gershon. By using the phrase "as well", the Torah is teaching us that both tasks were necessary for the Mishkan and both should be done with equal joy.

G-d gives each of us a separate job in this world. I cant do your job and you cant do mine. Sometimes it may seem to us that someone elses job is more important than our own, or it carries greater prestige, or its more glamorous. However, no one is more important than anyone else.

G-d created each of us in His image and thats whatmakes each of us the most important person in the world.

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