Parashat Nasso (Lift up) Numbers 4:21-7:89
Haftarah: Judges 13:2-25
Be careful, this week’s Torah reading will be different depending on where you live. If you live in Israel then it is the regular Torah reading from parashat Nasso, but if you life outside of Aretz Israel, you celebrate an additional day of Shavuot / Pentecost and read from Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17.0. There is a special maftir—Numbers 28:26-31—dealing with the offerings for Shavuot and the haftarah is from Habakkuk 2:20-3:19. In this article we will discuss the normal parasha—Nasso.
In chapter five of Numbers one finds an odd section dealing with a husband who suspects his wife of adultery. In this case HaShem supplied the means for the husband to know without any uncertainty if his wife was guilty or not. This method was only possible during the time of the Tabernacle or the Temple. Hence today it is not available. The question that needs to be asked is why, when there are so many things that one needs to know about spiritual truth, does HaShem choose to provide this miraculous way of discernment in regard to this issue?
The answer is that the marriage covenant has a most high status before G-d. HaShem knows that a lack of trust, i.e., the suspicion that one has betrayed the marriage covenant, will destroy the vessel that G-d has provided man to manifest His glory in this world. Even though this method of discernment is not available today, one can learn an important principle from this chapter. The wife (and also the husband) should never do things that would cause the spouse to doubt his or her fidelity.
Today individuals tend to be way too causal about how they interact with the opposite sex. It is most common for a man to have a business meeting with a woman over lunch. This type of behavior only serves to sow seeds of doubt and suspension. Within Judaism there are a set of rules that regulate the interaction between a man and other women. Although this is a creation of man, there is a great deal of spiritual insight in these rules.
Rav Shaul—the apostle Paul—warns the believer not to give an evil appearance. This certainly also applies to interaction between men and women. A good general principle is for a man never to do anything that might give another the impression that the woman that he is with is his wife. The man especially needs to set boundaries to guard his marriage, as does the woman.
In this section the reader is told that a woman who is pure and innocent will bear a child (see verse 28). One certainly cannot conclude that women who have trouble conceiving are impure and guilty, but simply that because children are seen as a blessing from HaShem, that a pure and modest woman will be blessed by G-d in a most personal manner.
Shabbat is a time for reflection of G-d’s word and one’s response to it. This Shabbat why not ask yourself, “how is my conduct among the opposite sex”. Have I set the proper boundaries between those of the opposite sex? Many marriages have been destroyed by one who took a small step across the boundary. Once on the other side it is often times difficult to return.
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