Thursday, May 24, 2007

Parshas Naso 5767

I have re-posted last year’s Dvar Torah with an extra, similar, thought new for this year.

In this week's Parsha, Parshas Naso, we learn about a couple of the most fascinating topics in the Torah; Sotah and Nazir. Essentially, a Sotah is a women that is accused of being a wayward wife and she goes through a process at the Beis haMikdash where she drinks a mixture of water and earth from the floor of the Mishkan. If she is innocent, the waters do not effect her, but if she is guilty of cheating on her husband, the waters make her stomach swell to the point of death.

A Nazir is someone who takes an oath to abstain from drinking wine or any grape products, as well as refraining from shaving or taking a haircut. The common explanation for Nazirus is that it is recommended for someone that is having trouble attaining the "middle path" in life. This person, for example, could be someone that is completely caught up in the material aspects of life, with no sense of spirituality. A period of nazirus would forbid him to drink wine or take a haircut - things that the person was probably too caught up with beforehand. By previously being on one end of the continuum, but now moving to the complete opposite end of the continuum, the Torah hopes that this person will, from then on, lead a life in the "middle path".

Interestingly, these two concepts are juxtaposed in the Torah. Quoting the famous Rashi:
"למה נסמכה פרשת נזיר לפרשת סוטה, לומר לך שכל הרואה סוטה בקלקולה יזיר עצמו מן היין "
Asks and answers Rashi, "Why are the ideas of nazir and sotah juxtaposed? To say that anyone that sees a sotah at the time of her decadence should go ahead and become a Nazir and abstain from wine."

Think about it: you see one of your fellow Jews going through the terrible punishment of playing Russian roulette with the Sotah waters - why then does this person need to go ahead and become a Nazir? You would think that this person, who sees this women at the time of her demise, would be the last person that would need to go ahead and become a Nazir! The fright of seeing the Sotah process should be enough to prevent this person from doing anything wrong (ie, drinking too much wine, obsessing over material things, etc.). Seeing this profound "religious" event should make a mark on this person. Or, think about it another way: you and your buddy are criminals - you sell drugs, kill the occasional person, etc. During one of your slayings, your buddy gets caught but you're let off the hook. Your buddy gets the electric chair and you watch him die. Wouldn't this experience be enough to prevent you from murdering further?

R' Yecheskel Weinfeld, son of the Lev Avraham asks this question, and offers the following answer (with my adaptation). We often, in different situations, get rushes of spirituality, much like a person watching a Sotah does. We've all had these intense moments where we feel so strongly about our Judaism. But what does the Torah recommend we do when we get one of these rushes? Does it recommend we let that feeling rest and sit idle? No, the Torah tells us to put it into motion immediately. Sure, the person seeing the Sotah gets a wave of spirituality, something that tells him that doing sins is wrong, but it isn't that feeling alone that is good enough - it's putting that feeling into action and becoming a Nazir. It's only when we take those feelings of fear and/or elation about our Yiddishkeit and put them into action that we truly maximize our potential.
We see this idea also regarding the timely holiday of Shavuos. The Kedushas Levi wonders why one of the names of Shavuos is “Chag haAtzeres.” Atzeres comes from the same root as the word “stop”; so what are we stopping from doing on Shavuos? R’ Levi Yitzchak answers that the Jews at Har Sinai stopped from touching the mountain. But, who cares if they refrained from touching the mountain? He answers that the Jewish people were extremely inspired knowing that they were mere days away from receiving the Torah. They wanted to put this inspiration into action, but not having the Torah left them with no tangible Mitzvos to perform. Thus, the first action that they took with this new-found inspiration was refraining from touching the holy Har Sinai. Thus, the same lesson we see above, that a person needs to act immediately on their inspiration, was fulfilled by the Jews at Har Sinai by Kabbalas haTorah.


Blogger SaraK said...

very nice, thanks. I may repeat this tomorrow. Shabbat Shalom.

5:47 PM, May 25, 2007


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