Torah Weekly

For the week ending 26 May 2018 / 12 Sivan 5778

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.


The Eye of the Beholder

“...May G-d illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you.” (13:17)

One of the phenomena of the twentieth century that defies complete understanding is The Beatles.

Granted, they had two outstanding composers and a third who was pretty good. They were prolific, writing around 300 songs. It’s true that Schubert wrote over 800 tunes, but only about a hundred are truly memorable. Mozart comes close to that, but you have to wait a long time until you get to someone who wrote so many good tunes. The “mop-tops” were all appealing, thin, and full of youthful enthusiasm. And they were witty and iconoclastic. But nothing really can explain their huge success.

In this week’s Torah portion we find the blessing of the Kohen. The second stanza reads:

“May G-d illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you.”

If G-d illuminates His countenance for me, isn’t that the same as being gracious?

The word “gracious” in Hebrew here is chen. When Yosef was imprisoned in Egypt, the Torah says, “…and He endowed him with charisma, and He put favor in the eyes of the prison warden (Ber. 39:21) Chen in this verse is again translated as “favor”.

The message is the same in both verses. You can have bags and bags of charisma, but you'll only ever be a legend in your own lunchtime if G-d gives you favor in the eyes of man.

You can be a lovable mop-top, a great songsmith and cute as a button, but to be a musical and sociological phenomenon — that only the Master of the World can grant.

  • Sources: Based on the Degel Machane Ephraim; Statistics: Howard Goodall

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