Torah Weekly

For the week ending 4 June 2022 / 5 Sivan 5782

Parashat Naso

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 more than 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 neighbor’s property, he must pay an additional fifth of the baseprice 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 Hashem’s Name on a piece of parchment. If she is innocent, the potion does not harm her, but, rather, it brings her 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 offering.


To Be Like the Stars

“He counted them at the word of Hashem...” (4:49)

The first Rashi in the Book of Bamidbar describes that Hashem commanded Moshe to count the Jewish People for the third time. Rashi points out that when something is dear to you, you count it. When something is dear to you, you give it a name. Interestingly the first Rashi in the Book of Shemot is very similar, “Even though He counted them in their lifetimes with their names, again He counts them in their deaths, to show their dearness, that they are like the stars, that Hashem brings them out and in by their number and name.

Why is the fact that the Jewish People are dear to Hashem because we are like the stars?

At the beginning of the Torah it says, “And Hashem made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night — and the stars.” Rashi says, “They were created equal in size, but the moon was reduced in size because it complained and said, ‘It is impossible for two kings to use the same crown.'”

According to the Midrash, the words “and the stars” in the verse mean that “…because He (Hashem) reduced the size of the moon, He made its hosts (the stars) many, to conciliate it.”

In other words, the entire purpose of the creation of the stars was to conciliate the moon, to ‘make it feel better,’ as it were.

The Midrash is telling us that just as the entire creation of the stars was to ‘be there’ for the Moon, so the creation of each one of us is ‘to be there’ for each other. We are dear in Hashem’s eyes when we are “like the stars;” when our entire focus is to raise the spirits of our fellow man.

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