12 Sivan 5776 פרשת נָשֹׂא, י”ב סיון, תשע”ו
Naso means to take and this is the model that our Creator has used for the Levites. In Bamidbar He asked Moshe to take a census where I asked “Are you being counted? Now we move from being counted to examining if we are in the right place. Our Creator loves order. He took chaos and replaced it with order in the universe. Everything He created has a role and a purpose. Each of us is made in a marvelous way and no one should ever say that He made a mistake with us. We are unique and our greatest mistake is when we compare ourselves with others. He reminds us in the tenth commandment — do not covet anything that is your neighbors.
When our Creator added the 13th tribe to the 12 tribes, He included Himself in this and said that He always would be with us. He was especially with the Levites whose role was exclusively to take care of the Mishkan, the sanctuary. Humans tend to designate a value upon everything but our Creator never intended to make the Levites more important than the rest; He simply separated them for their roles. I as your rabbi am not more important than anyone else here; rather I need to serve you, not to be served. When you do something for the community, you are not doing it for me but because it comes from your heart to serve. Joseph was given the double inheritance through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh because he was the Jacob’s first-born son through his beloved Rachel. Leah only became the first wife through Lavan’s deceit but Rachel was the intended wife. These two sons Ephraim and Manasseh never fought for position like Jacob and Esau and so Joseph understood the Creator’s decision.
The young men over 20 who were counted from the 12 tribes would be ready to give their lives in defense of Israel in battle. The Levites wouldn’t be required to fight rather their role was to maintain the Mishkan. The families of Levi‘s three sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari were divided into 4 groups, the fourth of which was from Aharon, the son of Amram, the descendant of Kohath. Aharon would form the priesthood whose role would be to serve in the Mishkan and also teach the Torah to the people. The last verse of Numbers 4 gives us a key to the Lord’s organization: “49 At the LORD’s bidding through Moses, a census was taken of them and each man was assigned his duty and load. And so the census was conducted by Moses as the LORD had ordered him.” Why is this so important? If we have been given certain gifts but we try to impose ourselves in areas other than our calling it causes problems. God has given us these qualities so that we can exercise them in the community. If we do not worry what others say or are doing but we simply do what we are called to do, we will be the most fulfilled people. There is a saying. If you are in the right job, it is not a job, it’s a blessing. If your job makes you so tired and you don’t look forward to each day, it is more a curse than a blessing. We need to help our children look forward to coming to the congregation and not force them or when they become adults they will run away. We need to give them a sense of worth and accomplishment here. This is not an entertainment center nor do we try to buy our children. They need to learn to serve with joy and to be given importance.
In Number 5: 5-8 it says 5 the LORD spoke to Moses and said, 6 ‘Speak to the Israelites: “If a man or woman commits any of the sins by which people break faith with the LORD, that person incurs guilt. 7 “The person must confess the sin committed and restore in full the amount owed, with one-fifth added. Payment is to be made to the person wronged.8 “If, however, the latter has no relation to whom restitution can be made, the restitution due to the LORD reverts to the priest, apart from the ram of expiation with which the priest makes expiation for the guilty party. How do we apply it for today? Here we see the idea of teshuva. Most religions have misunderstood the idea of korban or offering using it as a substitute instead of an opening to the Creator and making things right with Him. They use religion for their own benefit or to excuse themselves. The Torah never teaches that someone else will pay for your sins. Rather we see that in Shemot, Ezekiel, Jeremiah the person who sins is responsible for his own sins. It is escapism to believe that a person or animal can take away our sins and we get away scot-free. Any of the later writings need to be interpreted in light of Torah, whether Sheve al Peh, New Testament or Koran. Man does not have the right to change the Word of the Creator. The Torah tells us clearly that we cannot add or take away from the Word of God. We can simply extract the principles and apply them to our times. Simply put, if you commit sin, you need to confess it and make restitution. This makes our relationships right with the Creator and others.
Yeshua spoke out against those who were in power. He as Messiah didn’t come to pay for our sin rather to bring the Torah back to the people of Israel so that they could fulfill their role of being light to the nations. It is upsetting to hear people put words in our mouths. That is what they did with Yeshua and Rav Shaul (Paul). How do you think they would feel if they read what people say about them? They would never teach something against the Torah. Both today Yeshua and Shaul are accused of being traitors to Judaism and for getting rid of the Torah when the opposite is the truth. Yeshua was the greatest Jew who ever lived and he can be compared with Moses. What has been said about them by our Jewish people over the centuries is both lashon harah (gossip) and sinat chinam (free hatred).
Next we come to the teaching about the “sotah” – סוטה the adulterous woman; this has also been completely misunderstood. At the time that the Torah was given other codices existed such as the Hammurabi Code in which they had a way of dealing with a woman who was suspected of being unfaithful. The woman of that day held little value and her husband could easily kill her if he was displeased with her. The woman had no protection. We saw this same principle in the portion tazria which was given to protect the woman during her most delicate time, after childbirth or her menstrual cycle. The only way to get men to stay away from his wife and allow her to recuperate was for him to believe that he would become unclean and not be able to enter the Temple. It would not look good in front of the other men. In the case of the “sotah”, if a husband felt jealous whether it was true or not, he could bring his wife to the Mishkan. The priest would take some ash from the altar and mix it with some water to make up a potion. His wife would have to drink it. She was told if she was guilty her thighs would expand, her inner parts would burst and she could never again have children. Of course this was for the husband but if the woman was guilty she would have refused to drink it and her guilt would be exposed. In an ancient Codex they had a different way of dealing with this. The suspected wife would have to swim across the Euphrates River which at that time was filled with crocodiles. If she made it across without drowning or not get eaten, she would be considered innocent. Obviously the Torah was more compassionate toward the woman and this situation was quickly settled without any damage to the woman. There was no evidence that any woman ever blew up from taking this potion. Torah was giving back to the woman her value and identity. Sadly today women have lost their role in the home. Even women put others down for being a stay at home mom. They elevate the women who prefer to work, keep their children in day-care and work in higher positions then men. This is the greatest mistake that women can make. Women are the crown of God’s creation and actually lower themselves by trying to be like men. Chapter 31 of Proverbs gives a beautiful picture of what women were meant to be: she was far from lazy; she was smart, capable, good business women, a super woman.
The nazirites are spoken about next. The word nazir comes from nezer – נזר, crown or tiara of distinction. They could not cut their hair, drink wine or any product from the vine, no alcoholic beverages, not come into contact with corpses and they would make a vow of dedication to the Creator. This was for men or women alike. According to our sages, by taking the nazirite vow, the men or women would have the opportunity to be like the cohanim. Everyone in Israel could have the experience of the cohanim for a period of time. This idea of the nazir leads me to another point that I want to make about how many false truths have been spread over the years about both Yeshua and Rav Shaul. In the book of Acts 21: 21-26 in the Messianic Writings it says: Then they said, ‘You see, brother, how thousands of Jews have now become believers, all of them staunch upholders of the Torah (Shomer Torah); 21 and what they have heard about you is that you instruct all Jews living among the gentiles to break away from Moses, authorizing them not to circumcise their children or to follow the customary practices. 22 What is to be done? A crowd is sure to gather, for they will hear that you have come. 23 So this is what we suggest that you should do; we have four men here who are under a vow; 24 take these men along and be purified with them and pay all the expenses connected with the shaving of their heads. This will let everyone know there is no truth in the reports they have heard about you, and that you too observe the Torah by your way of life.
They had heard this about Rav Shaul, a Shomer Torah and we are still hearing this today. They wanted him to prove that it was not true. I have met many of my Jewish friends who have a much distorted idea about Yeshua and Shaul because of what they have heard from Christians. These two sincere and faithful men could never betray the Torah. Paul needed to pay by shaving the heads of those completing the nazirite vows. We have heard that after Yeshua died, the Temple and its offerings were NO longer necessary as he was the fulfillment of these things. Was Paul a hypocrite by doing this? Is this the hero of Christianity? Paul would have stood up and told his brethren that it was no longer necessary to go to the Temple, to do korbanot.
25 About the gentiles who have become believers, we have written giving them our decision that they must abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from illicit marriages.’ 26 So the next day Paul took the men along and was purified with them, and he visited the Temple to give notice of the time when the period of purification would be over and the offering would have to be presented on behalf of each of them.
How much clearer can it be? Was Rav Shaul a Shomer Torah or was he an imposter? They have put words in his mouth that he never said and they have believed things that he never taught. This is the sad story among religious people from Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism and Islam. They each teach things that our Creator never gave us and descend from the pure imagination of men in order to make us dependent upon them instead of being dependent upon God. That is the reason that I am not popular. I just learned that some religious people say that I am a dangerous man. I am sorry. My intention is not to be dangerous but to be open to people who want to search and seek truth for themselves. If you are looking for a religion, you are in the wrong place. If you are looking for a relationship with our eternal God, our Creator, this is the right place for you. However you will be challenged to not believe what man tells you but to look at what the Creator is telling you. Be where Our Creator has called you to be.