Naso 2021 Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
He shall not come into contact with the dead because the crown of his G-d is upon his head.
In some ways, the “resurrection of the dead” is an ongoing process: “And He said to me: Son of man, these bones are all of Israel. Behold, they say our bones are dry; our hope is lost, we are lost. Therefore, prophesy and say unto them: So says the Master, Hashem: Behold, I open your graves, and I will raise you from your graves my People, and I will bring you to the Land of Israel, and you shall know that I am Hashem” (Yechezkel 37:12). Yechezkel’s vision of the “dry bones,” which we read on Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach, describes the return of our People from exile to our Holy Land not as a resurrection of recently deceased people, but as a resurrection of the dry bones found in graves of those who died long before. It is evident from this prophecy that the physical ascent of our People to the Holy Land is a tremendous spiritual ascent and lifting of consciousness towards the Holy Presence for our People and the world at large.
The name of this parsha, Naso (meaning “to lift up,”) ties together many of the topics discussed in the parsha and on Shavuot, which always falls out close to this parsha, as well. The first title quote above from the Torah reading for Shavuot shows us God’s love for us preceding the Giving of the Torah, describing the Exodus from Egypt to Mount Sinai as an ascent “on the wings of eagles” towards Hashem. Similarly, the Midrash Tehillim (48) says that the future redemption will be by ascent to the heavens, which may mean literally (by plane perhaps?) or spiritually, to the Land of Israel. In Parshat Naso this motif continues, beginning with the “lifting” or choosing of the Gershonites for Divine service, which involves “lifting” the different parts of the Mishkan (Bamidbar 4:25). Later in the parsha, the Torah commands the kohanim to bless the people in what our Sages call “the lifting of hands,” which also concludes with the words: “May Hashem lift His Countenance upon you and give you peace” (Bamidbar 7:26) The parsha concludes with gifts to the Mishkan given by the princes of Israel, called “nesi’im,” which means “those lifted above the People.”
While in all these instances, the same root, nun, sin, aleph, meaning “to lift,” reappears, in many instances in this parsha “lifting up” also reappears in a conceptual way. For example, in the second title quote, the nazir is instructed not to impurify himself to the dead because he has a “crown” (“nezer”) of God upon his head (growth of hair for the sake of Hashem). A crown is the ornament par excellence that is lifted upon one’s head, signifying an individual’s status as “lifted above the People,” as we explained concerning the word “nesi’im.” Indeed, a king is also called a nasi in Vayikra (4:22). Because of this special “lifted up” status, the nazir is not to deal at all with the dead, those whose life-lifting souls have left them.
This prohibition of coming in contact with biblical level mortal impurity is expanded by our Sages to include rabbinic mortal impurities. An example of one of these rabbinic impurities is the land outside Israel (Rambam, Hilchot Nezirut 7:6-7). This rabbinic prohibition is so stringent that the Mishna (Nazir ch. 3) tells us the story of Queen Helena, who vowed in the Diaspora to be a Nazirite for seven years after her son returned from battle. For seven years after her son’s return, she observed the Nazirite laws in the Diaspora. When she came to the Land of Israel, she learned that she must observe the Nazirite laws properly for another seven years in the purity of the Holy Land.
These ideas come full circle with Yechezkel’s prophecy: When our People “ascend” to our Holy Land, our People are “lifted up” from the graves of impurity, “lifted up” as princes (and Nazirites) in the Palace of our Father-King, “lifted up” in the crowns of the Torah of Zion (see Chagiga 5b), and “lifted up” in the spirit of Hebron, First Kingdom of David, burial place of Ruth and Yishai his ancestors (as confirmed by the Arizal), springboard of inspiration for Calev, his ancestor from Judah: “For my servant Calev… a different spirit was with him” (Bamidbar 14:24).
Real Stories from the Holy Land:
“One week I dreamt that it poured in the summer months (I did not see or know of any such forecast). The next day, on Hebron Day (the day after Jerusalem day), it suddenly poured in Hebron, something very rare this time of year here.