Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89)

Still transitioning into full summer mode.  My only scheduled activity is Read Aloud DelawareNo classes, rehearsals, or lessons, but somehow there’s always something else to work on, like Torah and haftarah readings, the Book of Ruth, never-ending decluttering…

From 2017: Naso is the longest single Torah portion of the year, 176 verses.  However, that’s partly because it includes a detailed description of the gifts presented by each of the twelve tribes upon the dedication of the Tabernacle, and they’re identical, so that’s a lot of repetition.  Only the names of the tribe and leader vary. According to Nachmanides, this serves to hammer home that the tribes are innately equal before the Lord and also is a way to honor each leader individually, by name (see A Daily Dose of Torah, Y. A. Weiss, ed., Vol. 9, p. 105). 

But before we get to those, there are several situations and laws that do not really seem related.  However, everything not only ties together but logically follows from what came before.

First, we still have to complete the census of the Levites.  This one includes only the men aged 30 to 50 this time; since their work includes disassembling and carrying the Tabernacle when the Israelites were on the move, they retire from that duty at 50. 

Now that we’ve finished talking about the camp, we are reminded that ritually unclean people belong outside it and the offerings required for their ritual purification, which leads to some text about the guilt offering, which is brought for what is referred to as “a trespass against,” or “breaking faith with,” the Lord.

Since the same phrasing is used for a wife suspected of adultery, what comes next is the (in)famous), sotah ritual, a trial by ordeal brought by a jealous and suspicious husband. This involves having her drink “bitter waters” and uncovering her hair. 

“Hair” reminds us of cutting, or not cutting it, so next are the laws
concerning nazirites, including abstain from haircuts, beard shaving, intoxicants and grapes, and not coming into contact with a corpse. Becoming a nazirite was a way to attain a higher spiritual state.  This was intended to be temporary, say, 30 days.  Famous lifelong nazirites include Samuel, who bore it well, and Samson, born in this week’s haftarah (Judges 13:2-25), who didn’t. 

But there was ambivalence about this sort of spiritually inspired asceticism, so what’s next but a reminder of who are caretakers of the Israelites’ spiritual welfare, namely, the priestly benediction (6:24-26).  Finally, since we’ve being reading about holiness and dedication to the Lord, the last chapter in the portion includes the presentation of tribal gifts that I described above.

The priestly benediction is the most familiar part of this Torah portion.  It is part of our liturgy and, at certain times, (customs vary worldwide) is pronounced by the Kohanim in the congregation.  That brings me to “An Unbelievably Love-ly Vort” (vort =short insight) from Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s weekly, passed along to me by Arlene (thanks!).  The Kohanim recite a blessing before the priestly benediction, which includes “who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aaron and commanded us to bless His nation Israel, with love.”  Giving the blessing with love is a firm requirement. The Italian scholar Rav Moshe Dovid Valle [1697-1777]: wrote, “…and the Torah, by writing ‘amor lahem’ ( אָמ֖וֹר לָהֶֽם , literally ‘say to them’) implies with great focus and with complete love.  And there is a hint in the pasuk [verse] that it must be said with love.”  What is the hint?  “For the word amor in the language of other nations means ‘love.’”  Whether or not there is etymological evidence linking the Hebrew אָמ֖וֹר to the Latin amor, it’s a useful insight, since one can extrapolate it to include every time the Lord issues a command, “…amor lahem” that command is inherently filled with love.

Shabbat shalom,

Jokes about Jealousy
Jealous husband
Jealous husband: “My wife where are you?”
Wife: “At home love.”
Husband: “Are you sure?”
Wife: “Yes”
Husband: “Turn on the blender.”
Wife: (turns blender on) reeereeeereeee
Husband: “Ok my love goodbye.”
Another day, Jealous husband: “My wife where are you?”
Wife: “At home love.”
Husband: “Are you sure?”
Wife: “Yes”
Husband: “Turn on the blender.”
Wife: (turns blender on) reeereeeereeee
Husband: “Ok my love goodbye.”
The next day, the husband decides to go home without notice, finds his son alone and asks him “Son, where is your mother?”
Son: “I don’t know, she went out with the blender…..”

My wife gets jealous when I go grocery shopping
There’s always a cashier checking me out.

My wife asked me how I was going to feel when our son started dating…
Apparently jealous was not the right answer.

Bought some extra sensitive toothpaste the other day…
It got really jealous when I used a different toothpaste this morning

I caught my wife cheating with my best friend.
She was upset that I was always beating her, and he was jealous of how much money and property I had.
I was so angry when I caught them that I flipped the game board over and left them to pick up all the pieces.


Top Ten Nazir Pet Peeves    by weekly bang staff Posted: 06-07-2009

  1. Everyone confusing you for Matisyahu [popular American Hasidic Jewish reggae musician].
    9.   Singles Wine Tasting events

    8.   Annoying “Hey There Delilah” song always on radio
    7.   Only one at the Seder not trashed after cup 3
    6.   HR keeps making subtle comments about long man-braids not being appropriate for the office
    5.     People always asking if you have any weed, Phish tickets or weed
    4.  “Nazir, not Navi [prophet], I don’t know your future, damn it”
    3.    ‘Before-vow’ binge-drinking photos always popping up on Facebook
    2.    Bald alcoholic coroners
    1.    Samsonite briefcase gag gifts


tph samson hair



Place names that say looooooong hair (with input from my special Medusa and MrHaroldG2000):

  • Hairvard Squhair in Combridge, Masshairchusetts and UK
  • O’Hair International Hairport in Chicago, IL
  • US States (partial list): Hairizona, Delawhair, New Hampshair, Mane, Cannotgetitcut,
  • Canadian Provinces: Maneitoba, Albhairta, the Mhairitimes
  • World Cities: Lisbun, Manetreal, Vancouvhair,
  • Languages: Vietmanese, Manedhairin Chinese

A woman worked in the garden wearing her ankle length tresses down. After a while, she noticed rabbits nibbling the ends of her beautiful locks. Did she have a bad hair day or a bad hare day?

What is Rapunzel’s favorite department store? Macy’s in New York City because it is located in ‘Hair-old’ Square in ‘Mane-hattan’.

Then there was the man who was arrested for stepping over the floor dragging part of Rapunzel’s hair. He was arrested for tress-passing!!



tph Spock_Vulcan_salute

THE NEW NOVEL King of Shards by Matthew Kressel draws on centuries of Judaic myth about creatures like golems, dybbuks, and demons. In the course of his research, Kressel discovered that much of modern science fiction has Jewish roots. For example, when actor Leonard Nimoy invented the Vulcan salute, he was inspired by a two-handed gesture he’d seen at a Jewish ceremony.

“He suggested the one-handed priestly blessing,” Kressel says in Episode 172 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And that entered into pop culture history.”


Quotes about Equality of Groups

Do we believe that there is equal economic opportunity out there in the real world, right now, for each and every one of these groups? If we believed in the tooth fairy, if we believed in the Easter Bunny, we might well believe that. William Weld

I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences. Sonia Sotomayor

America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. Kenneth Frazier (Merck & Co. CEO. I recently learned we were contemporaries at the same junior high. IGP)


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