Friday, June 17, 2016

Parshas Nasso

This Week’s Parsha – Nasso

This week’s parsha is Nasso, and at first, it discusses the work which the families of Gershon and Merari did. The Leviim did holy work. Their only job was to work in the Mishkan, and serve Hashem. But truly, this is what everybody’s job is in life! I know it’s hard to realize and put into action, but the hobbies we have on the side do not matter at all. Unless they help us serve Hashem better. Again, our only job in life is to serve Hashem well.

Actually, this is an excerpt from my book – Derech Avodah – Bein Adam L’Makom on this topic: ‘Furthermore, HaRav Chaim of Volozhin zt"l (Ruach Chaim; Avos 3:1) cites a mashal/parable found in Gemara Shabbos 125b: The mashal is of a king who lent his special clothing to two groups of men. One group carelessly returned the clothes to the king, soiled and battered. The other group, however, gave everything back in incredible condition. The royal robes were clean and sparkling. Obviously, the king was happier with the group who returned the clothing to him clean and sparkling. So too, says the Gemara, Hashem gives us all a Neshama. Resha’im/evil people dirty their Souls with aveiros/sins, but Tzaddikim/righteous people keep their Souls clean and shiny. Hashem is obviously happier with the ones who returned their Souls still clean and sparkling – without dirtying them with sins.1 This is what we all must do. Now let us realize this: Just as we eat food and drink water physically, and without doing this we would die, so too, we need to ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ spiritually. How so? Torah is compared to water, and Mitzvos are almost like our spiritual food. Without, Chas V’Shalom learning Torah and doing Mitzvos, we cannot really stay truly alive, i.e. spiritually, because they are parts of serving Hashem well. If only a person cared as much about their spiritual food and drink as they did with physical food and drink! Also, if one wants to stay healthy, they must be careful not to eat or drink too much, however, spiritually, you can never get enough ‘food’ and ‘drink’! In fact, a person gets spiritually healthier the more Torah they learn, and the more Mitzvos that they do. A person must eat and drink physically, true; however, they must care more about the spiritual ‘food’ and ‘drink’. Additionally, when a person gets full of food or drink, they will usually need to stop eating, but when we do lots of Mitzvos and learn a lot of Torah, it a lot of times makes us want to do more of them! We cannot really get ‘full’ from Mitzvos; we can always keep doing them! Blessed is Hashem Who lets us do more Mitzvos!’

Now on to the parsha: At the beginning of the parsha, Hashem tells Moshe to ‘lift up the heads of the sons of Gershon’ i.e. to count them. Rashi explains that this means that Moshe was to count who of the sons of Gershon was fit to do the service in the Mishkan. The families of Gershon were to serve and to carry. They carry: The curtains of the Mishkan, the ones of the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting, its covering, the Tachash skin covering laid on it, and the Screen for the entrance of the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting. The hangings of the Chatzer/Courtyard, the Screen at the entrance of the gate of the Chatzer/Courtyard, their ropes, all the work involved, and everything that is made for them. The charge (duty) of the families of Merari was the planks of the Mishkan, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets. The pillars of the surrounding Chatzer/Courtyard, their sockets, their pegs, their ropes, and all the implements for the work involved. Moshe, Aharon, and the Princes counted the Levi families – men from 30-50, who come to serve in the Ohel Moeid/Tent of Meeting. For the family of Kohath: 2,750. For the family of Gershon: 2,630. For the family of Merari: 3,200. The total: 8,580. At the beginning of Shlishi/the third Aliyah, Hashem tells Moshe to command the Jews to expel from the camp essentially anybody who was tamei/impure. This was so they would not defile the camp – in which Hashem dwelled, so to speak. And the Jews did so. It is important to remember that the entire world is filled with Hashem’s Presence, so we must take pains to try to stay as clean as possible (unless in a case where it is a good thing to become tamei/impure). Then Hashem told Moshe to tell the Jews that if a man or woman commits a sin against Hashem, and they are found guilty, then they have to confess their sin, make restitution for the principal amount of their guilt, and give it to the person to whom they are guilty. Rashi quotes from Sifrei Nasso, which explains that this section is talking about a person who steals, and then swears falsely. Now, the Zohar tells us that ‘Vi’hisvadu es chatasam asher asu/And they shall confess the sin which they did’ refers to the Mitzvah/Commandment of Teshuva/repentance. If a person, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid does a bad thing, then they have to do Teshuva for it – saying sorry to Hashem for violating His Will. And HaRav Yitzchok Ginsburgh shlita explains a beautiful thing on this: The Gematria/numerical value of the word ‘/And they shall confess’ is 427. 7 x 61 equals 427, he explains, and this, is a big concept here. Because 61, is the Gematria/numerical value of the word ‘Ani/I’. ‘I’ is like gaava/haughtiness, because when a person cares too much about themselves, ‘I’, they are being selfish, and haughty (which means thinking you are better than others). So, Reb Ginsburgh shlita explains, this is the cause of a lot of sins, and in this case, 7 x 61, it makes ‘Ani/I’ 7 times! That is 7 times more care about ‘I’. So how do we rectify this? He asks. We turn the letters of ‘/I’ into ‘/nothingness’! Now, they do not think too much of themselves, but they become humble, and think of themselves as nothing! If we, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid did (or do) a sin because of thinking of ourselves too much, this is a great way to Teshuva. Back to the parsha:

In the middle of Rivi’i/the fourth Aliyah (which is very long) Hashem tells Moshe to tell the Jews about if a man or a woman takes a vow of Nezirus. What is Nezirus? Well, the Torah explains: A ‘Nazir’ is not allowed to eat or drink anything with grapes in it. For the entire duration of the person’s Nezirus, they cannot eat or drink anything with grapes. They are not allowed to cut their hair or shave it for the entire period that they are a Nazir, and they are not allowed to come into contact with any dead person, not even if a relative of theirs died. So we see that he cannot become tamei/impure for the things that a Kohen can! The Avnei Nezer (Rebbe Avraham Bornstein of Sochachov zt"l) explains a big difference between the two, and a way that a Nazir is higher than a Kohen: A Kohen, he says, is born into Kahuna, so he is already a Kohen from birth, and he does not have to do anything to become one. However, a Nazir is not born into Nezirus, they take it on themselves, abstaining from things for Hashem. In other words, they made the choice to abstain from things for a good cause, unlike a Kohen, who would have to be a Kohen no matter what they did. (Though it is not necessarily a good thing to become a Nazir). The Torah lists a lot of rules regarding a Nazir, and if you want to check out the rules further you can look into a Gemara Nazir. Then Hashem told Moshe to tell Aharon and his sons ‘Ko sivarachu es B’nei Yisrael.../So shall you bless the B’nei Yisrael... etc.’ The blessing was ‘Yi’varechi’cha Hashem vi’Yishmi’recha, ya’er Hashem panav eilecha veechunecka, yisa Hashem panav eilecha vi’ya’seim licha shalom/May Hashem bless you and guard you, may Hashem cause His Countenance to shine upon you and show grace to you, may Hashem lift up His Countenance toward you and put for you peace.’ There are some Mefarshim/commentaries which I have seen on this:

1) Rashi quotes from Midrash Tanchuma and Sifrei Nasso, which explain that ‘bless you’ refers partly to blessing our possessions, i.e. giving us a lot of them. He quotes further from Midrash Tanchuma which explains that ‘and guard you’ refers partly to Hashem protecting us from thieves. Because Hashem does not only give us possessions, the commentary explains beautifully, He also protects us so that nobody takes them. 2) The Nikolsburger Rebbe (Rebbe Yosef Yechiel Michel Lebovits shlita) asks; if we have this bracha/blessing, why do we need Mezuzahs, which are supposed to help have Hashem protect us? He answers that, actually, one of the reasons for having Mezuzahs is to remind us that a person cannot truly protect themselves, we all need Hashem to protect us. So every time we are walking through a doorway, Reb Lebovits shlita explains, we remember that people all need Hashem’s protection always. This is very important. Mezuzahs are very important things indeed!2 3) The Nikolsburger Rebbe says another great thing here: He asks; why would the Torah say ‘Vi’ya’seim licha shalom/And put for you peace’ in the singular form of ‘licha/for you’ (in the singular) instead of saying ‘lachem/for you’ (in the plural), which would have seemed more proper in this case, as this blessing was directed at all of Israel! But, he explains, the Torah is emphasizing the fact that inner peace is very important for each person (thus the singular

form, he is saying). How does one achieve inner peace? To answer this question, he brings some things in. According to Kabbalah and Chassidus, he says, the Soul has three facets; ruach/spirit, nefesh/life, and Neshama/Soul. The Neshama/Soul only wants good, the nefesh/life desires some bad things, and so does the ruach/spirit. However, when the Soul rules over every other facet, the ruach/spirit and the nefesh/life can be used for good as well. The Soul is in the brain (so to speak, because it is spiritual), the nefesh/life resides in the liver or the blood, and the ruach/spirit resides in the heart, Kabbalistic things say. The Hebrew words for brain, liver, and heart are moach/brain, caveid/liver, and leiv/heart. The right way, he explains, is to make your Soul ruler over your entire body, and everything in it. The first letters of the places where the different facets reside are מ כ ל. When we read the letters the proper way, with the Soul – which is in the brain – ruling over everything, it spells מלך/king! In other words, if we have our Soul rule over our entire body, than we are like a king. But if we read the letters the improper way, with the other facets ruling, it spells /כלםdestroy! So if we, Chas V’Shalom/Hashem forbid let our other facets rule over our Neshama/Soul, which only wants to do good, then we get destroyed.3 This is very, very deep and Kabbalistic.

Back to the parsha: The fifth, sixth, and seventh Aliyah’s mostly talk about the offerings which the Princes brought. Actually, we are told that they all brought the exact same things, though they did not know what the other ones brought. The different parts of their offerings represented special things according to commentaries, but I will not list them here.

However, the Alter of Kelm (HaRav Simcha Zissel Ziv Broida zt"l) comments on the overall concept of every Tribal Prince bringing the same offering: He explains beautifully that, a person might think that when people perform a good thing in a large group, or lots of people do the same one, then Hashem would not concentrate as much on each individual person’s good deed. But this is not so, says Reb Broida zt"l, actually, Hashem is very happy with every single person for every good deed which they do, no matter if they are doing the same one which lots of other people are doing. This is very important, and is a beautiful Mussar lesson.

This parsha has 176 pessukim/verses, which makes it the longest parsha in the Torah, verses-wise.

Have a great Shabbos!


1 Iggeres HaRamban.  By HaRav Avraham Chaim Feuer shlita.  Artscroll/Mesorah Publications.
2  Parshas Nasso.
3  Parshas Nasso.

No comments:

Post a Comment