The following is an adaptation of an article that appeared las year on Globe Tribune.Info.
This week, Parshat Naso, Candle Lighting in New York City will be at 8:00 PM. Candle lighting, which is 18 minutes before the sunset which marks the beginning of Shabbat differs according the town in which one lives. In Brooklyn, Shabbat will end at 9:08 PM on Saturday night.
Chabad.org has a site where one can look up this information, as well as other informative and entertaining articles.
This week’s Chabad.org has an article by a Jewish prison chaplain in Oregon who described a chaplaincy in which he works without fear with both Jewish and non-Jewish inmates. Chaplain Perlstein has good things to say about Oregon’s correctional system, which has the lowest rate of recidivism in the nation. Perlsteins observations about Islam in the prisons in which he works are interesting as well. Suffice it to say that there are radical and destructive strains of Islam, and responsible, life affirming forms of that faith. Rabbi Perlstein’s experiences were with decent and responsible forms of Islam.
The Aish web site has an article about moral relativism, the disappearance of good and evil in value judgments and how that has impacted upon Israel in the court of world public opinion. Anyone over 50 years of age has seen this downward progression and noted its negative impact in personal as well as public life.
A good part of this parsha deals with the sotah, the woman who is suspected of adultery. Numerous lessons are derived from the details of the sotah ritual. One detail with major implications is the part where G-d’s name is written and then dissolved in a mixture which the sotah drinks. If she is innocent, she is blessed with children and ease of birth. If not, she suffers a terrible death. In order for the sotah ritual to be effective, the husband needs to be as blameless as he would like his wife to be.
It is interesting to note that G-d commands through His Torah to erase His name in the course of either vindicating or convicting the suspected adulteress. For the sake of peace between husband and wife, G-d allows his name to be erased. A person can not claim to love G-d and to hate people. The two loves are tied together. The commandments of how to treat and how to regard people are ultimately an expression of our feelings towards G-d. Indeed, the commandments dealing with our attitude towards and our relationship with G-d stand on the tablets opposite each other. This is a fitting lesson to read right after having heard the reading of the Ten Commandments in synagogue.
Another interesting feature of this parsha is the seeming redundancy of the account of the inauguration offerings of each of the twelve tribes, which were listed for each prince separately, even though the offerings for each tribe were identical. Chabad.org, in an essay on this subject based upon the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, notes that the Torah expresses through this seeming redundancy that each tribe had its own unique set of experiences and perspectives behind their offerings. The very same offering could have an inner content and significance that might differ markedly from one tribe to another. This is a valuable lesson in our own lives today of the uniqueness of every individual, no matter how hard that might be to detect. If we look at our daily lives, much in our daily routine is repetitive. We should not give up our attempts to find meaning in our daily routine, whether it is the cycle of prayers and holidays or whether it is in our personal lives.
The Haftarah that is read this week deals with Shimshon (Samson) who from the time of his birth was a Nazir, who neither drank wine nor cut his hair. The parsha itself, of course provides an understanding of the vow of the Nazir by which Samson was bound.
It should be noted that Parshat Naso is usually read after the holiday of Shavuot. This year is one of the years that it is, instead read before Shavuot, which starts this Tuesday evening and ends on Thursday night.
May we soon merit to see the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, and the restoration of all of its offerings.