Blog Naso Sivan 12th 5779 בלוג נָשֹׂא, י”ב סיון תשע”ט

Last week’s parashah ended with the family of Kohat and now in Naso, we see the rest of the Levi family, beginning with Gershon’s family being given their offices and responsibilities. The Levites are divided into four groups, each of which has specific responsibilities for the upkeep of the Mishkan, the sanctuary. They were not to exchange their responsibilities with anyone else. I have learned from quantum physics that there is order to the universe. The Quantum Leap or the Big Bang had something behind them…the Creator. He created order and is The Great designer. Whenever we try to make changes to His sense of order, we create chaos. The Creator designed the nation of Israel giving them the foundation of order in the basic Ten Commandments.

Each person has been given a purpose in life by the Creator who considers us to be so special that He has invested so much in us. There is a movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”, usually shown at the time of Christmas, in which the hero felt that he should never have been born. An angel showed him what the world would have been like if he had never existed and he was finally able to see his value. He never realized how many lives he had touched. When you feel that you are good for nothing, you are really blaming the Creator. Our identity cannot be defined by others. We must never compare ourselves with others but give The Almighty thanks for who He made us.

How many of us are like Korach who never accepted his role but wanted that of Aaron? What was the result? Sheer Chaos. When we do that, we become destructive not only to ourselves but to our family and our community. People who are more interested in having a title than actually serving, once they have the title, often become dictators. That is why the Bore Olam created specific positions and responsibilities. One could not be a Cohen if they were not from the family of Aaron. They might have all the qualities and pedigrees to do the job, but they were simply not “called” for that position.

Today the world is rapidly changing. Everyone is regarded as equal and we are not allowed to differentiate. We confuse having value with feeling superior to others; we confuse position with importance. Here in Canada, there are many government workers at every level from the Prime Minister down. They are supposed to be the servants of the people. The reality is that we need to serve them. They forget that we pay their salaries. When we start understanding our roles, we can better serve others. It is not a matter of competition. We need to accept our roles and do the best with what we have been assigned. The Creator knew what he was doing when He established the functions for the Levites.

After this came the regulations regarding tzaraat or leprosy where the infected would have to be separated from the community for a period of time. Tzaraat is a spiritual disorder, caused by Lashon Harah, the evil tongue. Many of us feel sorry for these people and try to make excuses for their behavior. Instead, they need to be confronted with what they are doing and told how their behavior is affecting others. We need to help them to change and grow; although it is hard to confront people, it is necessary. When Miriam spoke against her brother Moses, she came down with tzaraat and was put outside the camp for seven days (notice that it was not permanently). In every community, whenever someone is being disruptive, he or she needs to be dealt with to restore order in the camp.

After that comes the confession and restitution; then rules for the Sota the wife of a jealous husband, followed by the Nazarite vows. It is important to understand why these rules were given. The Hammurabi Code had a very unjust solution to deal with the woman whom the jealous husband suspected of adultery. She would have to cross a river full of crocodiles. If she made it alive to the other side, she was considered innocent. The Torah changed this. “And [the Kohen] shall make her drink the water, and it shall be that if she became defiled and betrayed her husband, then the water that brings a curse shall enter her and become bitter, and her stomach will swell and her thigh will fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. And if the woman was not defiled and she is pure, then she shall be free, and she shall conceive seed.” (Numbers 5:27-28) This hocus-pocus was a way of introducing to these superstitious, simple people the principle that we are innocent until proven guilty. The Nazarite vow allowed the ordinary citizen of Israel, male or female to experience the role of Cohen HaGadol, High Priest for a short period of time giving them a sense of everyone being equal. Here we see how advanced the Torah was.

The Aaronic Blessing is introduced, and we end with the last chapter, Numbers 7, which is the longest chapter in the Torah in which each of the twelve tribes brings their gift offerings to the Mishkan. The first tribe called was Judah. The Torah describes in depth what each tribe brought and repeats these details for each of the twelve tribes. Why? For the Creator, no tribe was better or more important than the rest. The Levites were separated to form the spiritual army and not included here.

Everyone has a very special and important way to serve. Do you feel important in the eyes of the Creator? That is why I love Psalm 139. He knows us from the moment of conception. Let us take up the challenge and ask ourselves, “What makes me special? What would the world be like without me?” The Bore Olam made an investment in us. Let us not deny the Presence of the Creator in our lives and let us make His investment in us worthy of Him.