Naso

“Parsha and Purpose” – Naso 5780

“Parsha and Purpose” – Naso 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Renewing our Vows” with God

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Renewing our Vows” with God

We’re on the balcony of my Ohr Torah Stone office in Gush Etzion, overlooking Highway 60, the road which the Jewish people would take, as they were oleh regel – as they ascended to the Beit haMikdash – three times a year; the road from which the Romans conquered and pillaged Jerusalem; the road on which we, the Jewish people, reconquered Jerusalem, as well as the environs of Gush Etzion all around us.

It’s the road of Jewish history, right outside my office, and you’re all welcome to come and visit it in person.

“Vayehi bayom kalot Moshe lehakim et haMishkan.” It is the day on which Moshe finishes the construction of the Mishkan, after seven days of taking it apart and putting it back together again. 

Rashi comments on this verse, Kalat ktiv, that it’s written as “kalat.” You see, Rashi’s version of this verse is different than ours; we have a vav in the word Kalot, but Rashi has it without a vav. For Rashi, the word means, “kalat ktiv” – it’s like a bride and groom.  Rashi is trying to explain why it is that Moshe, a man, a leader north of 100 years old, needs to deconstruct and reconstruct the Mishkan for a week. After all, he’s not the moving company, responsible for moving the Mishkan from place to place. There’s a message that Rashi is trying to communicate, in his very cryptic language, and that is that the Mishkan is not an end in itself, but a means to an end: to create sacred moments in time with God.

And therefore, what Rashi is highlighting is that Moshe has to take it apart and put it back together again to signify to the Jewish people that the structure is only important when we imbue it with relevance and holiness.

This is exactly the message that the prophets give to the priests when they say “be careful,” when the Temple was being abused and becoming not a place of holiness, but rather of idol worship, as happened at various points in history.

And Rashi is trying to highlight the fact that the Mishkan represents the relationship between the bride and groom. It’s for this same reason that every bride and groom has Sheva Brachot. What is Sheva Brachot? Sheva Brachot is the ma’ase nisu’in – it’s the act of marriage. It’s the responsibility for seven days to take apart the marriage and renew it, to highlight that the institution of marriage itself is not the mitzva. There’s no special bracha on the marriage; it’s what you do with the marriage. That’s what’s critical, that’s what’s important. 

And therefore Rashi says, Moshe takes apart the Mishkan and puts it back together again, like a Chatan and Kallah, as a Chatan and Kallah “renew their vows” for seven days, to highlight that what’s important in a marriage is not the institution, but what we do with the institution, how we infuse it with relevance. 

What an important message for all of us. It’s important for us on two levels. Because of corona, our weddings are looking so different now than they did not so long ago. It’s no longer about the pomp and circumstance, it’s about understanding the meaning and the beauty. It doesn’t matter if the wedding is in a hall with 500 people, or in a backyard with 50 people. What counts is the message of “kalat,” the message of consecrating a relationship between a bride and groom. 

What counts, as we read this parsha, is how we re-consecrate our relationship with God. It’s about taking it apart, evaluating, where are the weaknesses, and where are the strengths, and rebuilding our relationship to God. Or, as we journey through this age of corona, to remind ourselves of the opportunity even during tragedy to renew our relationship with God, to create a renewed bond, a renewed relationship, a new face. Because ultimately, our commitment to a relationship is what imbues the structure with holiness and purpose.

Shabbat shalom.

Naso: Stealing from a Convert

Shaul Vieder

Parashat Naso: Stealing from a Convert A convert recognizes the God of Israel as the creator of the world, and wishes to be part of the Jewish people.  Therefore, those who steal from a convert not only renounce their commitment to the victim – they renounce Heaven itself. Rabbi Shaul Vider, Ra”m in the Claudia …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Naso 5780

Shabbat Shalom: Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin  Efrat, Israel – This week’s reading of Naso describes the “Sota,” the woman who acts immodestly. At the very least, she sequesters herself alone with a man despite the fact that her husband warned her against seeing that person. She therefore undergoes the test of the …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Shavuot/Naso 5780

“Parsha and Purpose” – Shavuot/Naso 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Shavuot, God and Creating Eternal Holiness”

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“Shavuot, God and Creating Eternal Holiness”

Did you ever wonder why, when it comes to the holiday of Pesach, Sukkot, or Rosh haShana or Yom Kippur, there are specific mitzvot to do- whether it’s eating matza and maror, sitting in the sukka or shaking lulav and etrog, hearing the shofar, or fasting. But when it comes to the holiday of Shavuot, which concretizes our relationship with God, there are no particular commandments! Eating cheesecake is not a biblical commandment. Why are there no particular commandments for the holiday of Shavuot?

I believe there is a deep message here for us. First, the acknowledgement of the fact that our relationship with God, which is fully celebrated on Shavuot, cannot be limited to a particular basket of commandments. It’s the way we engage with God every single day that’s important.

We take out 25 hours – or outside of Israel we take out two days – to reflect upon that perspective: that Shavuot is about the way we talk to our neighbors, how we fill out our tax forms, how we interact with our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, our parents. 

And that’s why it’s not limited to specific commandments. To highlight the fact that Shavuot requires us to realize that our engagement with God is based on our entire weltanschauung on life.

It is God who creates the holiness on Mount Sinai, and therefore when God leaves, the holiness dissipates. But in  the Temple, it wasn’t God alone that created the holiness; the holiness was created by the partnership with the Jewish people. Likewise our synagogues: the holiness may emanate from God, but that holiness is created because the energy of the community, the energy of the people. And when holiness is created in partnership, between God and the Jewish people, that holiness is eternal.

What an important message for us! We are the ones who guarantee the eternality of the holiness. We guarantee that holiness lasts forever. We play a role in the future of the Jewish people, in the future of society, and even – according to Rav Kook – in the future of God, in the future of God’s role within this world. 

And therefore Shavuot is not limited to a particular commandment. Holiness created in partnership with God lasts forever, and holiness that is created by God alone just lasts for a moment. 

What a power we have, the capacity to change the world! Let’s recognize that as we celebrate this holiday of Matan Torah, this holiday in which we also – in Israel at least – read on Shabbat the Parsha of Naso, of rising and playing a leadership role in our relationship with God, and let us understand that we need to take a moment back on Shavuot and ask ourselves how each and every one of us can change the world around us, can transform ourselves, and in the process, transform society around us. 

Chag Matan Torah Sameach, Chag Shavuot Sameach.

Parshat Naso: Limitless Love?

Yisrael Avital

Parshat Naso: Limitless Love? We ought to enjoy our good lives, accept Hashem’s gifts every day, perpetually, and thank Him for them. On the other hand, we should also remember that we were given a role in this world, and that we aren’t like the beasts of the field, driven solely by our instincts. “Can …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Parshat Naso 5779

Shabbat Shalom: Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “When a man or woman shall commit any sin that people may commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty; then they shall confess their sin which they have committed…” (Numbers 5:6–7) According to Maimonides, this verse, which …

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“Parsha to the Point” – Naso 5778

Parshat Naso (Numbers 4:21 – 7:89) Rabbi David Stav Parshat Naso opens with an account of the Jewish people’s last-minute preparations as they continue their journey to the Promised Land. The Tabernacle (“Mishkan”) at the heart of the encampment has been dismantled, and the members of the Tribe of Levi are entrusted with carrying its holy …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Naso 5778

Parshat Naso (Numbers 4:21 – 7:89) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – Who was the target audience for the Ten Commandments? Our Biblical portion this week speaks of the ongoing voice of the Divine, which continues to be heard from within the Sanctuary (Mishkan) on a continual basis after the Divine Revelation, which has just …

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“Parsha to the Point” – Naso 5777

Parshat Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) Rabbi David Stav  This Shabbat, we’ll read Parashat Naso. It has 176 verses, making it the longest Parasha in the Torah (incidentally, it has the same number of verses as the longest chapter of Tehillim, and there are 176 pages in longest tractate of the Babylonian Talmud). Many of these verses describe the sacrifices …

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