Click HERE to access our Parashah Summary Archive with week-by-week summaries and study questions
Nasso ~ נשא ~ 5773
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 has 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 donate 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 and to reveal his name; then ascends in the flames of the altar on which Manoah offers a sacrifice to G-d. Eventually, a son is born and is given the name of Samson.
Parashah Study Questions
1. Shavuot was over Thursday night. Why do many congregations not recite “Tachanun” (Prayer of Sad Supplication) for an additional seven days?
2. Can you substantiate the claim that Shavuot is a homage to the Jewish mother?
3. Two famous Talmudic statements of women’s superiority include: “women have greater faith than men” (Sifre 133) and “women have greater powers of discernment” (Niddah 45b). Where in the bible is this substantiated?
4. Newsweek published a list of its “150 Women Who Shake The World.” Six are Jewish – do you know why they are important?
a. Jill Abramson
b. Gabrielle Giffords
c. Tzipi Livni
d. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
e. Julie Zeilinger
f. Roseanne Barr
5. When Rav Yosef heard his mother’s footsteps he would say “Let me arise before the approach of the divine presence” (Talmud Kiddushin 31B). What lesson is the Talmud trying to convey?