The Torah portion, Naso, refers extensively to laws regarding the unfaithful wife. It is hard to say anything positive about this law, and I'm not motivated to try to do so. I want to focus my critical reading of this law on one detail that may, at first read, look marginal: the part in the ceremony when "the priest shall bare the woman’s head "(Num. 5:18).
Jews are not ascetics – or at least, so we tend to think.... Parashat Naso gives us laws that lead us to focus on priestly rules and the purity of the Israelite camp. The adjacent appearance of laws on the sotah (adulteress) and the Nazirite invite us to consider the relationship between these two subjects.
These words, ascribed to King David, reflect humanity's aspiration for holiness — k’dushah.
When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and stars that You set in place,
what is man that You have been mindful of him,
mortal man that You have taken note of him,
that You have made him little less than divine,
and adorned him with glory and majesty. (Psalm 8:4-6 )
"It's not my fault!"
We've all said it. It's rarely easy to accept responsibility for the mistakes we make or damage we cause. Sometimes we know instantly we've done something wrong; sometimes it takes time for us to realize the extent of our mistake. But even after that realization, it's always painful to say, "I'm sorry."
In my teen years, during one of many moments of theological questioning, I asked my rabbi, "Do you believe in God?"
"Laura," he said. "God is, for me, that special connection, that sacred space that exists in the relationship between two individuals."
It seems that here in Naso, this is where God exists as well. "When men or women individually commit any wrong toward a fellow human being, thus breaking faith with the Eternal, and they realize their guilt . . . " (Numbers 5:6). When an individual commits a wrong against another, God too is harmed, experiencing a betrayal, a breach of faith.
In this Torah portion, Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89), we learn about the Nazirite and the Nazirites now.
The Nazir reminds us that our task is, as Rabbi Zimmerman explains, "not to separate from our community and people and not to abstain from life's joys but rather to affirm life at its best, to join
On the day that the Mishkan was fully erected, the princely chieftains were instructed to bring identical tribal offerings to the Mishkan (Numbers 7:10).
Rabbi Frishman makes a profoundly important argument at a critical moment of crisis in America and across the world.
There are few texts from the Torah more ubiquitous, more universally invoked than Birkat Kohanim: the Priestly Benediction. We Jews use it all the time. At weddings. And bat mitzvahs.
Have you ever had an experience in life that you hoped would never end? Many of us can recall such an experience. We want to hold on to that moment a little longer.
Our ancient sages were obsessed with organization.
Whenever I read about the sotah I cannot help but think about the scene of the witch trial in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.