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Shabbat Commentary

25/26 May: Shabbat  Naso comes in 8:46 pm,  ends  10:03 pm

The subject matter of Parashat Naso seems scattered.  There are rules about ritual impurity and about theft of sacred property.  There is the ritual of the Sotah, the woman whose husband has become so jealous of her perceived misconduct with other men that he subjects her to a strange ritual of trial by “ordeal.”  There is the Nazirite vow to live life in an even stricter fashion than is expected of the Kohanim themselves.  Finally, there is the presentation of each tribe’s gifts at the dedication of the Mishkan.

What do all of these have in common?   Most show how to physically enact the holiness code that the Israelites received at Sinai — moving out of the camp so as not to transmit ritual impurity; confessing and returning stolen objects; drinking the sotah ritual’s bitter waters; the various abstentions and sacrifices of the Nazirite; the bringing of the dedication gifts.

The Israelites are beginning to act on the life they have so far only heard about.   And life is in the details.

Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman

May 24, 2018