This Week’s Torah Portion | May 28 – June 03, 2017 – 3 Sivan – 9 Sivan, 5777

Nasso (Take) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion


TORAH : NUMBERS 4:21-7:89

PROPHETS : JUDGES 13:2-5

GOSPEL : JOHN 11:1-54

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. 

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

The Parashah for this week May 28—June 3, 2017 is called Naso—“Elevate”—the heads (Take a Census):

TORAH: Numbers 4:21—7:89

HAFTARAH: Judges 13:2-25

Numbers 5:11-31 “The Law of Jealousy”

This difficult and, for many, highly-offensive passage deals with what has been called “the only clear-cut instance of trial by ordeal in the Bible” (Robert Alter). It describes a ritual for determining a woman’s guilt or innocence after a spirit of jealousy has aroused within her husband a suspicion that she has “gone astray and behaved unfaithfully toward him” (5:12-13, 29) by having physical relations with another man, yet there being no physical or circumstantial evidence of this. Verse 14 alludes to the possibility of a “spirit of jealousy” coming upon men, both when their wives are guilty or when they or innocent of this sin.

The man is to bring her to the priest with an appropriate offering. The priest then brings her near and sets her “before the LORD” (5:16). He takes holy water in an earthen vessel and sprinkles in it dust from the floor of the tabernacle. The woman is bound under an oath that drinking this water will bring a curse upon her body if she has lied and is guilty. The oath is written into a book and scraped into the mixture, a grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand is waved before the LORD, a portion of it burnt on the altar–and the woman is required to drink the bitter water. If she is guilty, her stomach will swell, her thigh rot, and she will “become a curse” among her people. If she has not defiled herself and is pure, she will be clean and able to conceive seed, her stomach to swell with the blessing of children.

The situation described in this passage strikes many commentators as bazaar, primitive, superstitious, not to mention demeaning, unfair and irrational in the extreme. For some, it seems an ordeal “based on a kind of archaic magic” (Alter). But that is through the paradigm of a modern mind not used to taking into consideration such factors as the existence of a supernatural God of love, truth and justice, the Creator and Lord of the universe, One able and determined when necessary to intrude what appear to be supernatural and marvelous ways into the affairs of those He calls His children. Consider the following:

*This was not some arbitrary, occult divination, but a directive of the Creator of the world who was at that time present and traveling with His people in a real and tangible way. The dust the lady was to drink was not mere filth from the ground, it was from the floor of the mishkan (dwelling place, tabernacle), sanctified by the manifest presence of the God of Gods who dwelt there, the Same who had molded man from the same dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of Life.

*Even as the Creator had placed “light-bearers” to illumine the heavens (Gen. 1:14), it was the destiny and high call of the Israeli women to bear within their wombs progeny through whom the families of the world would experience illumination into God’s nature and blessing for all humankind (Gen. 12:3; 26:4; 28:14)—Indeed, one would eventually bear and bring forth the Light of the World. Satan hated this destiny and its fruit. He had sought to thwart if from the beginning by attempting to violate the wombs of both Sarah and Rebekah (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-17; 26:6-11). He had attempted to slay all the male children in Egypt. After God had delivered His people from Egypt, the nature of their call and destiny began to clarify-they were to be a special treasure to Himself, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation before the whole world (Exodus 19:5-6). Vital to this was that the bearers of that treasure keep themselves pure.

*In this circumstance, the wife is obviously seen as being “under” her husband’s oversight (vss 19, 20, 29). Verse 31 seems to imply that that oversight extended to being held responsible before God if she defiled her body by adultery, and he failed to take action. If he did so and she were convicted, “Then the man would be free from iniquity, but that woman shall bear her guilt.”

*Ultimately, rather than an abuse of the woman, it in fact served as a protection for her—the God of Heaven would be her supernatural defense and vindication, even when her honor was impugned by the Accuser working through the fallen nature of her husband under whose authority she had been placed.

And what of the men? Were they free to be sexually unfaithful with impunity, while the onus for unfaithfulness rested only upon the wife? Again, the God of Israel was dwelling in their midst. He released directives for maintaining order and governance in the society through responsibilities appointed to those positioned at every level—including the oversight of families. The righteous God who worked supernaturally to vindicate or to convict the actions of the daughters of His people through laws He had lain down regarding their conduct, would surely be also faithful to see and judge the actions of the men whom He had appointed to administer those laws.

*Numbers 6:1-21-“The Law of the Nazirite”

Nazir has to do with “separation”-in this case by a person consecrating him- or her-self with a special vow, usually for a specific period of time, for devotion to God. Another word for separation or “being set apart” used in verse 2 is linked with that used in Psalm 4:3, “But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who trusts in His lovingkindness.” But here, the person chooses to set himself apart. An outward mark of one engaged in this vow was his abstinence from eating or drinking anything related to the grape. Another, in the case of a male, was abstinence from allowing his head to be touched with a razor for the duration of the vow. In the case of Samson (see this week’s Haftarah) and probably Samuel (I Samuel 1:11) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15), the person was dedicated to the Lord in this way for life.

*Numbers 6:22-27. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

‘YHVH bless you and guard you

YHVH make His face shine upon you and grace you

YHVH lift up His face to you and give you Shalom.‘

“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

With this blessing the LORD’s holy name YHVH was placed over the Israelites by the priests as a covering and protection. No other name would have true power to bless them, to be their guard and keeper, to release grace upon them, or to guard their hearts and minds with true shalom. Twice this blessing refers to the LORD’s face in relation to the one blessed. The absolute necessity of being in the light of that face permeates the Hebrew Bible from beginning to end. Without God’s face (sometimes in English translated ‘presence’) attending them, Moses prayed to God not to bring himself and the people up to the Promised Land (Exodus 33:14-15). Three times in Psalm 80 the minstrel Asaph equates God’s causing His face to shine on Israel with “salvation”, while in Psalm 44:3 the sons of Korah attribute Israel’s winning of the Land to YHVH’s “right hand, His arm, and the light of His face, because he loved them”. There is a voice, sang David, crying out within every man, “Seek My face”.and his response, whenever He recognized it, would be “Your face, LORD, I will seek.do not hide Your face from me” (Psalm 27:8).

So this was the blessing which would attend the Children of Israel when the priests placed God’s name YHVH over them. Today Israel has lost the pronunciation of that Name; when the blessing is recited, it is usually replaced by another name for deity, Adonai (Lord/Master). However, the root of the original Name it is hidden within the Hebrew name for Jesus. Yeshua, a contraction for Yehoshua, means YHVH Saves! He is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3). He is Sar Shalom.the Prince of Peace. As members of a Holy Priesthood (Rev. 1:6), we would encourage you to pray this blessing over the Jewish people, placing The Name conjoined with Salvation-Yeshua-over them. Pray for the veil to be removed from Jewish eyes through the power of the Holy Spirit that they may come into His presence, to know their LORD face-to-face. “And I will not hide my face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out my Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says Adonai YHVH-the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 39:29).

*Numbers 7:6-9. “So Moses took the carts and the oxen, and gave them to the Levites. Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service [i.e. transfer of the outer coverings, etc., of the tents of the Tabernacle]; and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service [i.e. transfer of the skeletal structure of the Tabernacle, bars, pillars, etc.], under the authority of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.“

Deuteronomy 17:18 would require future Kings of Israel to hand-write out a copy of the Five Books of Moses, the Torah, so that its instructions would be infused into every aspect of their reigns-yet David evidently failed to do this-or at least attend to this graphic directive that carts were ok for everything else, but the “holy things” (including of course, the Ark of the Covenant) were to be “carried on their shoulders.” His failure to follow God’s special instructions for dealing with The Holy, resulted, even in the context of genuine ardent praise and worship in other ways, resulted in disaster (II Sam 5:13; I Chron 13:5-14).

Numbers 7:89. “Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the kaporet [“Mercy Seat”] that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.”

Centuries later, the word of the LORD here had become “rare” and there was “no widespread revelation” (I Samuel 3:1). Yet here, “before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of YHVH where the ark of God was. YHVH called Samuel. And he answered, ‘Hineini-“Here I am!”

PLEASE PRAY: for believers in Israel to keep themselves pure-and to be willing to wait in the Presence of the LORD to “hear what the Spirit is saying to the congregations.”

*Judges 13:6. “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome.”

In this recounting of the coming of the angel/messenger of God to Manoah’s wife to herald the conception of Samson, at least five times he is referred to as a ‘man’. Two of those times he is called a “Man of God” which, interestingly, could just as easily be translated from the Hebrew “The God-Man” (Ish ha-Elohim). Later in the story he refuses to give his name, since it is ‘wonderful’-and at the end Manoah is convinced that he and his wife must die, “because we have seen God.” Of course, at this time Yeshua/Jesus had not yet taken on human flesh. But it appears, nonetheless, to be an instance of a pre-incarnate manifestation of the One who was to come.

PLEASE PRAY for the understanding of Jews who read or hear these words next weekend to be opened, that they may comprehend the identity of the One who came to Manoah and his wife and ascended in the flame-of the One who was seated on the throne of the chariot in the Ezekiel passage-of the One who came down in flame onto the mountain in Exodus 19 (Luke 24:44-45)-of the One who has come in the flesh once before, and Who is coming again!

The Parashah for next week, June 4-10, 2017 is called B’ha’alotcha—“When You Light Up” (i.e. the Lamps). 

TORAH: Numbers 8:1—12:16

HAFTARAH: Zechariah 2:10—4:7

In A Nutshell
The portion describes the children of Israel’s preparations to set out on a journey from Mount Sinai to the land of Israel. The bulk of the work revolves around the tabernacle. The census in the tribe of Levi continues, and there is a description of the distribution of duties between the families of Levi, Gershon, Kohat, and Merari. The Creator gives an order to send the impure people outside the camp as preparation for the inauguration of the tabernacle.

Afterward the portion narrates different situations in which the people need the help of the priests and the tabernacle. The incidents are connected to negative acts such as stealing, a person swearing in the name of the Creator in vain and must offer a sacrifice, and a woman who strayed and is suspected of committing adultery and is therefore brought to the priest. There are also positive incidents, such as the story of the hermit, detailing the laws that a person who makes a vow takes upon himself, and the blessing of the priests, the blessing that the priests bless the people.

The end of the portion discusses the gifts of the presidents and the great celebration—the inauguration of the tabernacle. The portion ends with the conclusion of the preparations, when the people of Israel can set out to the land of Israel.

Commentary

The Torah speaks only about our soul and how we should correct it. We do not correct the body because the body is an animal and acts according to its nature. We must reinstate the “portion of God from above” (Job 31:2); this is the soul.

We do it as it is written, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice”[1] because “the light in it reforms.”[2] When we begin to connect to others under the condition, “love your neighbor as yourself,”[3] we find how repelling we find this act. We do not want to see anyone, only use them for our own benefit.

This is our nature, as the Creator said, “I have created the evil inclination.” However, the more we study and try to draw closer to each other, and discover how utterly impossible it is, the more we feel our nature as bad, as ill will, evil inclination. Then we need a means to correct it, and this is the light that reforms.

When we study the wisdom of Kabbalah in the right group, with people who want to acquire the good inclination, the revelation of the Creator, who want to change and improve, then we discover a whole world within us. We find layers, degrees, and various parts. Indeed, the priests, Levites, Israel, and the entire world with its still, vegetative, animate, and speaking are all in our desires, in the evil inclination.

The Torah tells us how, by which context and which order can we begin to transform the evil inclination into a good inclination. This is what we need to do in this world. The Torah teaches us how to use the light that reforms, which parts of the evil inclination should be treated first, and which ones later.

This process is like a doctor telling a patient, “First we will take care of one thing, then the other. If a patient has a heart problem, it is the most urgent issue, even if the patient says, “But the sore in my leg hurts worse.” Here the doctor has to say, “Wait, we’ll get to it, but it is not your most urgent problem.” The same goes for us.

The Torah instructs us how to scrutinize each detail, to correct it, tie all the corrected parts together, how to temporarily part from desires that still cannot be corrected because they are too big so we must hide them for now. We advance toward connection with others in order to discover the Kli (vessel) of the soul, where we discover the upper light, Boreh (Creator), called Bo Re’eh (come see). We discover gradually, one at a time, through cause and effect.

The previous portion talked about dividing man’s desire into tribes, priests, Levites, and Israel. Who are the priests and what is their role in the people? How should the people divide into twelve tribes? Why is it specifically twelve, three lines and HaVaYaH, three times HaVaYaH, which are four letters, making up twelve parts of the will to receive?

Here we are talking about the next stage in the correction of the soul, of a person who wants to correct it, nurture it, since it is a “portion of God from above.” The Creator is utterly good and does good. A person who wants to work with the good inclination instead of with the bad does it by acquiring the good inclination, the form of the Creator. This is why it is called “come see.”

The portion describes how it is done. The tabernacle is something magical and unknown, a special place in our will to receive. There is nothing but the will to receive; the whole of creation is a will to receive, and within our desire is a special place where we are connected with the upper light. We bring our desires there much the same as we go to a doctor. It is called “a healer for the brokenhearted,”[4] and they are corrected there. The tabernacle is the primary, central place, where our desires are corrected.

Questions and Answers

Does each of us do it separately?

Yes, each one must do it. This is why our work is mainly the work of sacrifices. Prior to that we make all the scrutinies: what is kosher (fit/proper/legitimate), how it can be done, and what within us is a Levite, a priest, Israel, nations of the world, Klipot (shells/peels), still, vegetative, animate, or speaking. We need to learn how to sort and arrange our desires. At the end of all the scrutinies, a person brings an offering. The word, Korban (offering/sacrifice) comes from the word Karov (near/close). When one corrects one’s will to receive in the tabernacle, it is where the point of nearing the Creator is found.

It is truly holy work because the priests are the pure quality of bestowal in a person. The high priest is GAR, meaning the “head” of this quality in us. This is the force within us that is called “priest.” This is also what can correct all the layers of the will to receive that are below it. This is why there is elaboration on what to do with parts of the will to receive such as an uncorrected woman or man, or other problems that arise in the process of correction.

Our whole progress on the path of correction is similar to being in the desert. We discover our evil inclination—that it is an entirely egoistic desire, and we cannot elicit any vitality from it. This is why we feel in it as though we are in the desert. Hence, we are all nourished by the light from above, called “manna from heaven”; this is how we advance.

The desert is a short phase in the process. Why did we stay in it for so long? It is written that we could have traversed it in three days, yet it took us forty years. Why?

The three days are what it takes to obtain three lines. Forty years is the participation of Malchut in Bina, which is called the “degree of forty.” It is not forty years; the Torah does not refer to years the way we do. Rather, it is a degree. A person who attains a degree in the will to receive that is called Bina ascends to the degree of the quality of bestowal and is entirely immersed in the desire to bestow. Although the will to receive that has not yet been corrected burns within just as before, that person “freezes” it and restricts it, holding the burning inside. It is as if there is a box about to erupt like a volcano, and one puts the lid on top and remains above it. Such a person controls all of the egoistic desires, and this is called ascending to the degree of Bina and being ready to enter the land of Israel.

Rising above the “volcano” means rising above the great desires, over all the big Kelim (vessels) that we took out of Egypt. Each time we had to discover the bad in the desert, it is considered that we sinned in the desert. Throughout this process of erring and sinning time and again, Moses and Aaron were tending to these matters.

In other words, one discovers all the corrupt thoughts and desires in the mind and in the heart, and is constantly looking for actions and efforts in connecting to the environment, to the group one is in, to the upper light, the Creator. It is done in order to find out how one connects to external elements and brings them closer, and through them is sanctified.

We keep saying that the only thing we need to correct is our connections, yet all that is described here seems to be internal. If we say that preparations are over and we can set out, is this about something that a person did alone?

The person completed the preparations with all the desires, arranged them in order and sorted them, and has already been equipped with one’s arms. Now that a person can set out and discover the new desires that will indicate how to proceed in the desert.

With whom does one proceed?

A person proceeds with one’s own desires that are already prepared for this process, namely the priests, Levites, Israel, tribes, the division that was done in the previous portion. After tending to all of one’s desire, one sets out with them. In other words, a person is now ready to advance toward the land of Israel, Bina, with all the desires that have been “paused.” Now one proceeds with all those desires—the women, children, and all the men.

Even the animals are taken, meaning all the desires, one’s entire inner world. From here one advances entirely toward bestowal, to the quality of Elokim, called Bina.

What is the measure of dependence? For example, if a friend is already there but I am not, does that mean that I am slowing or holding my friend back?

It has nothing to do with friends; it is one’s own inner work. The friends can only help on the outside, evoke the importance of reaching the land of Israel and being in the state of Yashar El (straight to the Creator), where all the desires aim to bestow. Friends can help us increase our desire to correct the entire evil inclination into a good inclination, and they can increase the importance of the goal thus indirectly helping us wake up and muster strength.

Are some of the scrutinies we make done with friends?

All scrutinies are internal. It is inner work, and others should not know the work we are doing.

What are impure people, or a woman who strayed?

We all have such desires, hence we discover them. The Torah speaks of what exists within us. It opens up our own interior and explains what we can find inside: desires, qualities, and thoughts. It also explains how we should work with our “self.” We need to bring all these qualities and desires to identify with the Creator, as it is written, “Return, O Israel to the Lord your God” (Hosea 14:2). It is not referring to us rising “above the moon,” but about spiritual ascension, inner elevation from out own qualities.

My thoughts are also sent to me; is it the Creator who sends them?

Everything is sent to us. The Creator says, “I have created the evil inclination.” We have nothing to worry about; it is “His problem.” All we need to do is ask that the light that reforms will come and turn our evil inclination into a good inclination. This is our entire work, our entire life is for that purpose.

If, for example, I discover within me the quality called a “woman who strayed,” what does it mean that I bring it to a priest? What does the priest do?

It refers to what we sanctify. In this case we sanctify a desire called “a woman who strayed.” A woman who strayed is a desire to receive that does not want to work in order to bestow, but only to receive. It is a desire that wants to draw the light of Hochma (wisdom) from above downward instead of from below upward. In other words, it does not want to work in bestowal and love of others, but for itself. It is an egoistic desire at the degree of a woman.

There is a husband, there is a wife, and there are nations of the world. It is all inside of us. Our desire suddenly appears as one that wants only for itself, as having no intention of ever being close to the Creator, to others, or to bestowal. When we discover we are like that and that this is what delays our progress, we discover it as a woman who strayed.

Assuming someone asks, “What is a woman who commits adultery?” Someone might say that there are male adulterers, too. Moreover, today adultery is very prevalent.

The men and the women in this case are our own desires. You cannot say that men are doing something wrong, or that women are doing something wrong in our world. Everything is in our inner world—the men, as well as the women—they are all our own desires.

A woman carries with her a greater deficiency, while the man is more prone toward Masachim (screens), toward the power to overcome. But in fact, when a person discovers these discernments within, it does not pose a problem as it does in this world. After all, it is about one’s own desires, and it makes no difference what they are called, “woman,” “man,” “priest,” “Levite,” “Israel,” or “nations of the world.” All of them must be arranged by levels and qualities, to see what should be done according to the Torah, called Hora’a (instruction), meaning what should be corrected within me next.

Is there any connection between that and people’s relationships in everyday life?

No connection whatsoever. You might meet a person on the street who seems wicked or foolish, or someone who seems smart, or someone who is a complete righteous, but you cannot really tell about that person’s insides. It could be nothing but an act.

From The Zohar: A Woman Who Strayed

Why should a man bring his wife to a priest and not to a judge? The judge is the best man of the queen, correcting the Malchut for a Zivug with ZA. Hence, the correction of the flaw of the straying woman, which reaches Malchut, belongs to him. …Only the priest is fit for it. It is the quality of Bina, the strong quality of bestowal. Priests have a special character. It is such a powerful and strong desire, and so corrected in order to bestow, that it can add to itself all the small, corrupted desires and correct them … because he is the queen’s best man. Also, all the women in the world are blessed by the Assembly of Israel … while the priest is poised to correct the words of the queen, Malchut, and look into all that she needs. This is why only the priest is worthy of it, and none other.

Zohar for All, Nasso (Take), item 61

We talked about the strength of the priest, but this portion also mentions hermits and even rules about them. What is a hermit?

A hermit is anyone who limits him or herself. If a person who weighs 300lb (136 kg) stops eating something, does that make that person a hermit? Likewise, when we see that we cannot work with the revelation of the Creator, with the great pleasures being revealed, and we might take everything for ourselves and become egoists once more, we limit ourselves and do not draw these pleasures. In the wisdom of Kabbalah it is considered “not drawing light of Hochma.” Such a person does not touch grapes or grape products, such as wine. This is called being a hermit. However, it is not so for a priest, who is permitted to have some of it.

These are forms of corrections that everyone will have to experience in some of the desires. Through them we correct the desire and move on. In that state we already know how to use the light of Hochma from below upward and receive it. All the things that were forbidden were so only because he or she was not strong enough to use them with the aim to bestow.

Assume that a person offers me a box of great chocolate, and I really like sweets. Although I could give it to others, I say, “Don’t give it to me.” This is called being a hermit. Afterward I acquire a bigger Masach (screen), I acquire a measure of love for someone, and that measure is greater than the love I have for the chocolate, so I say, “Give it to me.” I am now ready to make an act of bestowal, to pass this light, this pleasure, through me to another.

In our world Kabbalists talk about a person having to enjoy life, marry, and lead a normal life. That is, we can do anything as long as we bring these pleasures to a spiritual level and not lose them on the corporeal one. After all, on the corporeal level we cannot enjoy everything in life.

The Torah teaches us how to rise to such a level of pleasures that they will all flow through us to others and return back and forth. This is called “spiritual life”: endless, whole, and this is where we are being elevated. When a person grabs for oneself everything one thinks that he or she deserves, it immediately stops the flow and leaves a person with nothing in its stead, until that person dies. However, if one enters the circle of energy, flow, knowledge, and sensation of endless pleasures—because it passes among everyone—that person is regarded as leading spiritual life.

What is a blessing and priests in spirituality?

A blessing in spirituality is a force that exists on the level of Bina, influencing lower desires and blessing them, leading them to the level of Bina, too. A blessing is the degree of bestowal, Bina; it is the ability to bestow, to give.

[1] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Kidushin, 30b

[2] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Kidushin, 30b

[3] Jerusalem Talmud, Seder Nashim, Masechet Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b.

[4] The Book of Zohar, Hayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah)