Torah Weekly

For the week ending 18 June 2016 / 12 Sivan 5776

Parshat Nasso

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Editor’s note: This week Nasso is read in Israel and Bamidbar is read outside of Israel

Overview

The Torah assigns the exact Mishkan-related tasks to be performed by the families of Gershon, Kehat, and Merari, the sons of Levi. A census reveals that over 8,000 men are ready for such service. All those ritually impure are to be sent out of the encampments. If a person, after having sworn in court to the contrary, confesses that he wrongfully retained his neighbors property, he has to pay an additional fifth of the base-price of the object and bring a guilt offering as atonement. If the claimant has already passed away without heirs, the payments are made to a kohen. In certain circumstances, a husband who suspects that his wife had been unfaithful brings her to the Temple. A kohen prepares a drink of water mixed with dust from the Temple floor and a special ink that was used for inscribing G-d's Name on a piece of parchment. If she is innocent, the potion does not harm her; rather it brings a blessing of children. If she is guilty, she suffers a supernatural death. A nazir is one who vows to dedicate himself to G-d for a specific period of time. He must abstain from all grape products, grow his hair and avoid contact with corpses. At the end of this period he shaves his head and brings special offerings. The kohanim are commanded to bless the people. The Mishkan is completed and dedicated on the first day of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The prince of each tribe makes a communal gift to help transport the Mishkan, as well as donating identical individual gifts of gold, silver, animal and meal offerings.

Insights

Preaching to the Unconverted

“…When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit by committing treachery towards G-d.…” (5:6)

Becoming Jewish is a “tortuous” procedure. The degree of sincerity and commitment that a non-Jew must display to prove his or her bona fides might well prove too much for those of us blessed to be born of a Jewish mother.

Thus, when a convert is accepted, the Torah charges us to “love the stranger” (Vayikra 19:34). Interestingly, the mitzvah to love our spouse is learned only from the general rule of “You shall love your friend as yourself”, whereas the imperative to love the convert is stated explicitly. In fact the Torah warns against cruelty, oppression, or unkindness to a convert 36 times!

Rashi explains that the seemingly general term of one committing "any sin that men commit by committing treachery towards G-d” means “theft from a convert.”

Someone who steals from a convert desecrates the Name of his G-d in the eyes of this convert who has come to seek refuge under the wings of the Divine Presence. For this reason the Torah uses the verb me’ila, which denotes misappropriation of Temple property and the like. Thus, someone guilty of such an offence must bring a korban chatat (a sin-offering) — the punishment for Temple property misappropriation.

  • Source: based on the Tzforno as seen in Talelei Orot

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