Nazir and Birkat Kohanim

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Jun 9, 2005

With 176 pesukim, parashat Naso is the longest parasha in the Torah. Although the parasha deals with many different topics, Chazal attempt to find the kesher that exists between each of them. For example, in our parasha the Torah deals with the laws of the nazir. The parasha immediately preceding the parasha of the nazir is that of the sotah. Rashi explains that the reason behind the juxtaposition of these two parshiot is that one who sees the sotah b'kilkulah (in her undoing) will swear to abstain from wine. A bit later in the parasha the Torah deals with the korbanot of the nesi'im, followed by the parasha of lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan at the beginning of parashat Beha'alotcha Here, too, there is a thematic kesher between these two topics, leading to their juxtaposition, as Rash i points out: since Aharon was upset because he and his shevet did not get to participate in the chanukat hamizbeach, HaKadosh Baruch Hu told him, "Your portion is greater than theirs, since you light and clean the neirot."

Immediately after the parasha of the nazir, the Torah instructs the kohanim how to bless the nation, birkat kohanim. Here, too, Chazal point out a kesher, although it is a halachic kesher rather than a thematic kesher: Just as a nazir is forbidden to drink wine, so a kohen may not drink wine at the time of his avodah. This leads us to ask our first question: There is a halachic kesher between parashat nazir and parashat birkat kohanim; is there no thematic kesher between these two parshiot as well?

Our second question: At the termination of his nezirut, the nazir must bring a korban chatat, among other korbanot. This korban atones for the sin he committed "al hanefesh" (BaMidbar 6:11). The Ramban asks: What sin did the nazir commit that requires him to bring a korban chatat? He explains that it is his return to normal life, which naturally contains a higher level of tumah than his life of abstention as a nazir, that obligates a korban chatat. Rabbeinu Bechayei, an 11th-century rishon, challenges the Ramban's explanation, pointing out that nowhere do we find that a person must bring a korban chatat before he actually sins; entering a situation more conducive to tumah cannot be enough to obligate the nazir to bring a korban chatat. Why, then, must the nazir bring a korban chatat?

The haftarah of parashat Naso deals with nezirut Shimshon. We have a principle that the haftarah is always related to the parasha, with the exception of the special haftarot, such as the sheva d'nechemta. Our third and final question, then, is: How does the haftarah of nezirut Shimshon relate to the parasha? After all, nezirut Shimshon is not even directly comparable to the nezirut of our parasha, as there are halachic differences between the two types of nezirut!

Rather, when we read in the navi the entire story of Shimshon haGibbor, of his tremendous might and his colossal downfall, it is clear that the navi wishes to teach us that there is no gevurah without kedushah. The moment the gevurah is no longer attached to kedushah, it vanishes. Therefore, when a person ascends to the Beit HaMikdash and witnesses a sotah b'kilkulah, drinking the water in which the Name of Hashem was erased, her stomach blowing up and the kohanim rushing her out of the Mikdash as she suffers a horrible and painful death, he has witnessed a clear instance of a sin and its punishment. This inspires him to accept upon himself extra kedushah and yirat shamayim.

Seemingly, this is a good thing. However, when it comes time for the nazir to end his nezirut, it becomes clear that the kedushah he originally accepted upon himself was one that isolated him from the tzibbur. In other words, this is a nazir b'kilkulo. When a person accepts additional kedushah upon himself, that kedushah must strengthen his connection to the tzibbur, not weaken it. This is the kilkul for which the nazir must bring a korban chatat.

Perhaps this is the thematic kesher between the parasha of the nazir and that of birkat kohanim. One who sees a nazir terminating his nezirut is witnessing a nazir b'kilkulo; the tikkun for this is birkat kohanim, through which the kohen uses his unique kedushah not to isolate himself from the tzibbur, but to contribute to the tzibbur. Although his blessing of the tzibbur is because Hashem commanded him to do so, he does it with love and affection, sharing his kedushah with the entire tzibbur.

As we stand at the foot of Har Sinai, so close to Kabbalat haTorah, we must remember that the Torah is given to us, human beings, in order to create the proper balance in life, infusing every aspect of the Creation and every one of our actions with kedushah. Once we accomplish this we will truly be a mamlechet kohanim v'goy kadosh – a goy on the one hand, leading a normal life, but also kadosh, infusing normal life with kedushah.

Today, more than ever, we see that gevurah cannot exist without kedushah. We must pray for gevurah on this Shavuot, haba aleinu l'tovah, and accept upon ourselves the yoke of Torah with the pleasantness of Torah, in a way that it connects to every aspect of our lives. As it says in the Yerushalmi, "Kol hamekabel ol torah mochalin lo al kol avonotav, All who accept the yoke of Torah upon themselves are forgiven for all their sins." Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach! Meir Goldwicht



Parshas Nasso 5765

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