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Naso ~ נשא ~ 5774
The Torah assigns the exact Tabernacle 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 neighbor’s 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 Nazarite 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 Tabernacle is completed and dedicated on the first day of Nisan in the second year after the Exodus. The prince of each tribe makes a communal gift to help transport the Tabernacle, as well as donating identical individual gifts of gold, silver, animal and meal offerings.
MAFTIR Numbers 7:87 – 89 ~ page 601
HAFTARAH Judges 13:2 – 25 ~ page 602
An angel appears before the wife of Manoah of the tribe of Dan telling her that she will bear a son, and instructs her to abstain from strong drink and unclean food. The boy is to be reared as a Nazarite (a subject dealt with in the Sidra) and will begin to save the Israelites from the power of the Philistines. She tells her husband of her experience, and in response to his prayer G-d again sends the angel, who this time is seen by Manoah. The angel repeats his instructions, refuses the offer of food or to reveal his name, and ascends in the flames of the altar on which Manoah offers a sacrifice to God. Eventually a son is born and is given the name of Samson.
Parashah & Shavuot Study Questions
1. Why is it customary to study the six chapters of The Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) between Passover and Shavuot?
2. What is the relationship between the trait of “humility” and Shavuot (hint: “ADM” and Mt. Sinai)?
3. Prior to the destruction of the Temple, Shavuot observance was a dual themed observance. What were the 2 themes then, now, and how do we compensate?
4. Shavuot is greatly associated with the number 7. Then why do you think the holiday always falls on the 6th of Sivan?
5. What do the stories of Ruth and Job have in common?