Torah Weekly

For the week ending 31 May 2014 / 2 Sivan 5774

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-d's 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 Nissan 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.


Stop Thief!

“...they shall confess their sin that they committed” (5:7)

If I were to ask you: "What's the worst crime in the world?" — what would you reply? "Murder? Concentration Camps? Kidnapping? Pornography? Torture?"

Certainly we know the Torah identifies three sins as more severe that all others: Idol worship, Immorality, and Murder.

In one way, however, theft is a more serious sin than any of these. How come?

At the beginning of his Laws of Repentance, the Rambam cites as the source in the Torah for the commandment of Vidui (confession of sins) a verse from this week’s Torah portion dealing with the obligation to confess stealing from a convert - Gezel Ha'ger.

The first appearance in the Torah of the mitzvah of Vidui, however, is much earlier in the Torah in Parshat Vayikra, as it says: “When one shall become guilty…he shall confess what he has sinned.” (5:5)

When the Torah mentions a certain mitzvah more than once, the way of the Rambam is to cite the first appearance of that mitzvah in the Torah. Why then does he omit the first occurrences of Vidui in the Torah and choose this instance instead?

The prohibition of theft extends much further than a bank heist, more than a Brink's van break-in, more than a cat burglar shimmying his way up a narrow chimney.

Everything in the world belongs to G-d.

When we do anything against G-d's will we have stolen from him. We have distorted the way the world is supposed to be and have misappropriated it to serve our own purposes.

Theft is the root of all sins.

When someone murders, he not only kills, but he steals the potential that life had and the purpose for which that soul was sent to the world. He has “stolen” from G-d.

When someone worships an idol or ascribes power to anything other than the Almighty, he has stolen the honor that belongs to the Creator alone.

When someone indulges in a relationship that the Torah prohibits, he has stolen the true likeness to his Creator in Whose Image he was created.

The world and its purpose belongs only to G-d.

Every evil act is in essence stealing from Him.

  • Sources: The Sfat Emet as heard from Rabbi Mordechai Perlman

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