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In Parshat Naso we read of Nazirites.   The Kohen and the Levi are like those  born with a title, or  into a wealthy family.  The idea of the Nazirite  was to  permit the ordinary Israelite to devote him or herself to God, even if not a born a priest or Levite.   The Torah specifies that this vow may be taken by “anyone, man or woman” (Numbers 6:2).

Women did not function within the Tabernacle as priests or Levites, but they were judges, prophets and Nazirites. Thus the desire of women to attain greater levels of holiness and closeness to God was recognised and given an outlet. They were not to be excluded from religious experience.

There is a great wisdom in the Jewish tradition that recognises that we need room in society both for those born into privilege, and for those who can choose to work hard to earn their titles and privilege.

Rabbi Paul Arberman

May 28, 2015