Naso – Archive

Letting Hashem In

 

ואם לא נטמאה האשה וטהרה היא ונקתה ונזרעה זרע (ה:כח).

“If she (the suspected Sotah, adulterous woman) was innocent then she will be exonerated and will be blessed with children” (5:28).

 

The Sotah goes through a fascinating investigative process which culminate with her drinking the bitter water. If she is guilty then she becomes bloated and her body explodes in full view of all the people assembled. If she is innocent, she will live and is given a blessing for the rest of her life that she will be fruitful and produce strong and healthy children.

 

Strange?

At first glance, both these two options seem hard to understand. They appear quite extreme. If she is guilty, why does the Torah dictate that she should perish so dramatically, could she not just die silently, why all of the fanfare and embarrassment? On the other hand, if she did not have relations with the man, why is she given such a great reward? Did we forget that she still went into seclusion with a man whom her husband warned her not to interact with, she is not that innocent? So why does the Torah give her such a great blessing?

 

Simple Lesson

The simple explanation is well known and after presenting it I would like to offer a deeper insight. The purpose of the Sotah’s dramatic death is so that people will see what happened to her and take a lesson to steer away from perversion. In fact, the Torah’s idea is that one who sees it will be inspired to accept Nazirus upon himself to help train himself to stay away from the distractions of the world (see Nazir 2a). On the other hand, if she is innocent, her husband may be reluctant to take her back, thus, just as for the sake of peace Hashem allowed His name to be erased, so too Hashem offers the couple a great blessing as encouragement to bring them back to a peaceful union.

 

Deeper

I believe it is deeper than this. Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 9:12) say that adultery is one of the worst sins as it shows a complete rebellion against one’s spouse and against Hashem’s boundaries. Therefore, if she is guilty, she (and the man involved who will die the same way as well) has made a statement that she does not want Hashem to be part of her live. There is no room in her heart for the Word of Hashem. But Hashem wants to enter our hearts and permeate our existence. So when His Holy Name is drank by her then a conflict arises. The holiness wants to expand and give to her but her body is not receptive. Perhaps this figurative spiritual friction is manifest by her physical explosion! She bursts because there is no way for Hashem to remain part of her!

The “innocent woman” on the other hand, true that she certainly is no righteous woman, as shown by her seclusion with a prohibited man, but at least she stopped herself! This is a message to Hashem that she is at least trying to improve! Thus, for her when the water enters her body, there is room to expand and the Word of Hashem brings the greatest blessings! Accordingly, she gets a great reward!

This is the way that Hashem set up the world, He wants to give and provide for us. He knocks on our doors and hearts desiring to give us only good. Our job is to open up and let Him in! Chazal in Berachos (42a and Rashi there) state, “immediately when you bring Talmidei Chachomim into your home you will have many blessings!”

Special Vessel

The water given to the Sotah was taken from the kiyor, lever, in the Bais HaMikdash. This device was made from the mirrors which the women donated. Moshe was reluctant to accept them until Hashem commanded him to. Those mirrors were used by the women in Egypt to adorn themselves to catch their husband’s attention so that they would build their families. This great mitzvah that they performed is the beautiful act of building the Jewish home for Hashem. Their actions done L’shem Shemayim, for the sake of Heaven, were the strength and encouragement to keep the nation alive! In the merit of the faithfulness of the women we were redeemed from Egypt!

The Sotah drinks from the kiyor waters to point to the exact explanation as to what was expected of her. If Hashem was divorced from her heart, and she did not follow in her great grandmother’s footstep, then she will explode. If she wants to connect with Hashem and is beginning to put in effort to act like those great women, then she is blessed! The water manifests how she answered the question of “do you want Hashem part of your life or not?” We too must ask ourselves this question. When one recognizes that true service of Hashem brings genuine happiness and blessing, then he will open up and let Hashem in!

 

Proper Berachos

 

In the gifts that the Nesiim gave to the Mishkan they gave Ketores, the incense offering. Rashi brings down a perplexing Chazal that states that Ketores (קטרת) has the same numerical value as 613, which corresponds to the 613 Mitzvos. Rashi notes that this value is only reached when we switch the first letter of Ketores (ק) and place a Daled (ד) in its place. What is going on here?

The simple explanation is that in the 26 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, there are 13 pairs of letters forming the At Bash (את בש) break-down. This is Kabbalistically based and is brought down in Sefer HaYetzirah. The letters Daled and Kuf are paired together as one of those 13 matches. What remains to be understood is why these two letters are specifically related?

Rabbi Shimon Schwab zt”l tackles this question. He explains that there is a deep connection between the Daled which is 4 and the Kuf which is 100. There is a Rabbinical obligation to make 100 berachos each day. According to strict Torah law, only 4 berachos are MiD’Oreisah, however, the Rabbis saw the need to expand upon the Torah’s obligation to bring more meaning to life. The four Torah ones are: Birchas HaMazone, Birchas HaTorah, Hafrashas Maaser and a beracha for Tefillah. This is the connection of the number Daled (4) and the number Kuf (100). It signifies berachos D’Oreisah and D’Rabanan.

Rabbi Schwab continues by stating that there are four main reasons that we say berachos to begin with. They are Ahavas Hashem, Yiras Hashem, Serving Hashem and Connecting to Hashem.

The Nesiim wanted to dedicate the greatest gift to Hashem and so they brought Ketores. The Ketores was the most magnificent and powerful smelling spice. Chazal say that the brides did not have to put on perfume when the Ketores was being burned as the scent was so far reaching! The Ketores teaches us how to make berachos. We should sing the praises of Hashem and spread the inspiration throughout the world. When we thank Hashem this way, it draws our hearts closer to Him and enhances our performance of the 613 Mitzvos. The Nesiim wished to give gifts to inaugurate the Mishkan. They wanted to share their excitement with the world. That is why they brought Ketores and they taught us how to experience simcha and give thanks to Hashem!

 

 

Counting Our Blessings

 

In the gifts that the Nesiim donated to the Mishkan they gave Ketores, the incense offering. Rashi brings down a perplexing Chazal which says that Ketores (קטרת) has the same numerical value as 613, which hints to the 613 Mitzvos. Rashi notes that this value is only reached when we switch the first letter of Ketores (ק) and place a Daled (ד) in its place. What is going on here?

Interchangeable

The simple explanation is that in the 26 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, there are 13 pairs of letters forming the At Bash (את בש) break-down. This is Kabbalistically based and is brought down in Sefer HaYetzirah. The letters Daled and Kuf are paired together as one of those 13 matches. What remains to be understood is why these two letters are specifically related?

Berachos

Rabbi Shimon Schwab zt”l explains that there is a deep connection between the Daled which is 4 and the Kuf which is 100. There is a Rabbinical obligation to make 100 berachos each day. According to strict Torah law, only 4 berachos are biblical, however, the Rabbis saw the need to expand upon the Torah’s obligation to bring more meaning to life. The four Torah ones are: Birchas HaMazone, Birchas HaTorah, Hafrashas Maaser and a beracha for Tefillah. This is the connection of the number Daled (4) and the number Kuf (100). It signifies biblical and rabbinical blessings.

Daled and Kuf

We thus see that the forth letter (Deled) in the Hebrew Alphabet and the forth to last letter (Kuf) are connected and relate to berachos. This is fascinating considering the fact that the Gemara in Shabbos (104a) states that Daled stands for Dal, a poor person and Kuf stands for Kadosh, the Holy One Hashem. This hints to the fact that we are poor (Dal) and we make berachos to elevate ourselves and get closer to Hashem (Kadosh). We thank Him for what He provides us with and we do not simply expect to be taken care of. Rather, every gift is seen as divine countenance and love of Hashem. We fill our hearts with deep appreciation.

Word Hints

Additionally, the word Daled-Kuf (דק – Dak) means “narrow or skinny.” (See Berieshis 41:3). The word dak means to scrutinize or pay particular attention. This comes from the root of the word which means to give one’s narrow attention. This teaches us that the way to make berachos is to concentrate on what we are reciting.

Another fascinating point is that the reverse of the letters spells Kuf-Daled (קד – Kod) which means to bow. See Berieshis (24:26) for the first time that this word appears in the Torah. Eliezer, the servant of Avraham was sent to find a wife for Yitzchok. He was searching for the most generous and kind young lady. Rivkah came and gave water to his entire flock of camels and all of the men and she proved herself to be kind. After she did this Eliezer knew that he had found the winner. He bowed (kod) on the ground and thanked Hashem.

Eliezer put his full faith in Hashem. Since the onset of his trip he prayed and begged Hashem to guide him. Although Eliezer was a smart man, he did not rely on his own skills, but rather he turned to Hashem for help. When he found Rivkah, he immediately gave thanks to Hashem for guiding him to her. The word kod (bowing) thus represents a deep connection to Hashem and a full recognition that only He can provide us with our needs. The foundation of berachos stands on this exact perspective.

Lesson

The Nesiim were entrusted to guide and inspire the Jewish nation. Their offerings which express their gratitude to Hashem, also contain deep hints and lessons concerning proper berachos and recognition of Hashem’s love for us. When we learn to truly appreciate all that Hashem provides us with, we have achieved happiness and enriched our lives and the lives of our families.

 

Naso

Real Blessing

This week’s Parsha contains the famous Birchas Kohanim, blessing that the Kohanim are instructed to give to the Jews. It is comprised of three short verses and contains many deep secrets. Rabbieun Bechaya shares some of these ideas.

 

Three Verses

The first verse contains three words, “yivarechicha Hashem v’yismarecha, May G-d bless and watch you.” The number three hints to the three Avos, patriarchs, in whose merit their descendants deserve to be blessed. The second verse contains five words corresponding to the five Books of the Torah, once again, a great merit that the Jews possess making them worthy of blessing. The last verse contains seven words corresponding to the seven rikiim, sections of the heaven. This hints to the fact that the world was only created in the merit of the Jews. I add that it also corresponds to the seven days of the week, another reference to the creation of the world.

 

Reading Torah

What is fascinating to note is that the three main times of reading from the Torah in shul are hinted here as well. One Monday, Thursday and Shabbos afternoon (Mincha) we read 3 aliyos, three people are called up to the Torah. On Yom Tov we read five aliyos and on Shabbos we read 7 aliyos (plus one for Haftorah which rereads part of the 7th portion). Once again, 3-5-7 is seen. Thus, the hint is that the ultimate blessing is that of the study of Torah. There is no greater blessing than the opportunity to learn Hashem’s wisdom and get close to Him. But why is this connected to Birchas Kohanim specifically?

 

Role

The job of the Kohanim was precisely to bring the Jews closer to their Father in Heaven by bringing sacrifices and teaching Torah to the nation. Aharon HaKohen was the first Kohen Gadol, High Priest, and he set the tone by teaching Torah to the Jewish nation as well as the proper middos, character traits, that one should strive for. Throughout history the Kohanim were seen as the spiritual leaders of the nation. Their three-verse blessing was appreciated and taken to heart by the nation. There is a special mitzvah in the Torah to honor the Kohen and not to allow him to serve you. We revere the Kohanim and look up to them as people who are close to Hashem and who inspire us. Their most powerful and prevalent message is expressed daily in Eretz Yisrael and over the holidays in Chutz LeAretz through the words of Birchas Kohanim. We hear their blessing and think about the Avos, Torah and the purpose of the world.

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