Naso (Numbers 4:21 – 7:89)

At 176 verses, Naso is the longest single Torah portion of the year.  However, there’s a lot of repetition in the 89 verses of Chapter 7, which include the 12 identical tribal gifts presented over 12 days at the dedication of the Tabernacle, each gift detailed 12 times, descriptions differing only in the name of the tribe, the date, and the tribal prince.  Why repeat so much?  One thought is that this emphasizes the tribes’ innate equality, despite differences in size and wealth.  But why not simply state once what the gift and that each tribe gave it?   Nachmanides explains the increased verbiage as a means to increase the honor of each tribal prince who presents the gift (From A Daily Dose of Torah, Y. A. Weiss, ed., Vol. 9, p. 105).  It still makes for boring reading, though.

Anyhow, there are a lot of apparently disparate topics in the portion, but if you sit back and let your mind drift along with the text, you might be able to replicate the sense of stream of consciousness that connects the sections into something resembling a whole (see ).  Naso begins with the completion of the census of Levites and description of their duties, with retirement from the heavy-duty labor at 50, followed by laws concerning removing the ritually impure from camp, then a handful of verses of tort law (if you wrong someone, you make restitution plus one fifth), the Sotah ritual for wives suspected of adultery by jealous husbands (trial by ordeal, as much psychological as physical), the laws of the Nazirite (nazir), the priestly benediction (6:24-26), and, as noted above, the individual tribal offerings.  The haftarah, Judges 13:2-25 , is about the foretelling of the birth of Samson, a nazir from the womb; it ends when the spirit of the Lord begins to move Samson, long before his unfortunate encounter with Delilah.

A Nazirite is described in 6:1-21 as a man or woman who takes a vow of “to set himself apart for the Lord” only for a specified period of time,), e.g., 30 days.  The nazir was required to abstain from intoxicants and all grape products, neither shave nor cut his hair, and not come into contact with a dead body, even of a close relative.  Ambivalence toward the nazir shows up in the Torah, the Mishnah (there’s a whole tractate on it), and the writings of subsequent commentators.  By becoming a nazir, the person hopes for a more intense and spiritual relationship with the Lord.  Yet, with rare exceptions (Samuel and Samson) one could only be a nazir for a limited term.  And the completion of that term requires a sin offering.  In the Talmud, R. Elazar HaKappar infers from this that the nazir had sinned by depriving himself.  Centuries later, Maimonides, in agreement, insists that the Torah advocates moderation, not mortification or asceticism; a nazir in that sense goes too far and nezirut is itself sinful.  R. Moses Isserles, following Maimonides, posits that the nazir attains holiness only after completing nezirut, which is an extreme state, whereas holiness requires attaining moderation.  Nachmanides, however, sees the end of the nazir’s term as sinful, since one is leaving a holy state for a lesser one.  The Sefer HaChinuch sees nezirut as a compromise so that one can raise one’s self to a higher spiritual level but still care for one’s physical being. (Sources: , and Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Bamidbar, pp. 51-9.)  I can see nezirut as a relief valve for someone who is so caught up in a desire for ecstasy and an intimate relationship with the Lord that he needs to do – something – and the rules of nezirut put a safe limit on extreme behavior, allowing both a period of “holiness” and then return to reality.

Shabbat shalom,



I don’t know if this is generally true, but in my experience, little girls like to play with Daddy’s hair, and Daddy can be very indulgent about this.  I remember putting my father’s thinning locks into those little pink plastic curlers – why, I don’t know.  I also trimmed the hair on his arms.  My daughter’s approach to her father’s curls was more logical.  She used barrettes. IGP.


Retirement Quotes

Retirement: When you have given so much of yourself to the Company that you don’t have anything left that the company can use.
— Unknown burnt-out retired person

I’m not just retiring from the company, I’m also retiring from my
stress, my commute, my alarm clock, and my iron.
— Hartman Jule

Don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire.
— Samuel Johnson



A woman wanted to reach her husband on his mobile phone but discovered that she was out of credit, she instructed her son to use his own phone to pass across an urgent message to his daddy who was on site. After junior had called, he got back to Mommy to inform her that there was a lady that picked up Daddy’s phone the three times he tried reaching Dad on the mobile.

She waited impatiently for her husband to return from work and upon seeing him in the driveway; she rushed out and gave him a tight slap. Then she slapped him again for good measure.

People from the neighbourhood rushed around to find out what the cause of the commotion was. The woman asked junior to tell everybody what the lady said to him when he called.

Junior said: “The subscriber you have dialed is not available at present. Please try again later.”


Category: On 1 Foot

Parshas Nasso
by S. Galena Posted: 07-09-2006(Viewed 1149 times)

12 Princes came to the Mishkan dedication party all bringing the same gifts.

Princes: “We all brought the same thing?!”

Torah: “Let me write this all down… Name please? Tribe? Gift? Next….”

Longest parsha ever. 



tph haircut


A Ninety-Year-Old Teetotaler

Several members of a temperance league approached a ninety-year-old teetotaler for a testimonial declaring that his longevity was due to a life of abstention from alcohol.

The old gentleman said he would be pleased to sign such a statement and was in the process of making his mark when sounds of a riotous party came from an adjacent room. “My God, what’s that?” gasped one of the visitors.
“Oh, that’s just my dad,” the teetotaler laughed. “He’s probably getting drunk again.”


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1 Response to Naso (Numbers 4:21 – 7:89)

  1. Sarah Brennan says:

    Please change my e-mail address to . Thanks.

    Sarah M. Brennan

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