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| Published: May 31, 2022
This week’s reading, Naso, is the longest single portion in the Torah, containing 176 verses. The reading starts with a continuation of the Levite census and a discussion regarding their Tabernacle duties. The laws of the sotah woman and the Nazirite follow. The portion concludes with the Priestly Blessing and the offerings which the Tribal leaders brought in honor of the Tabernacle inauguration.
First Aliyah: G‑d informs Moses of the Tabernacle duties of the Levite families of Gershon and Merari. When the Jewish people journeyed, the Gershon family transported the Tabernacle tapestries, veils and coverings, while the Merari family carried its structural components, such as the beams, boards and pillars. A final count is given of the Levite Kehot family — those between the ages of thirty and fifty, as per G‑d‘s command mentioned towards the end of last week’s reading: 2,750.
Second Aliyah: The total for the Gershon family: 2,630. The Merari family: 3,200. Thus the grand total of Levites eligible to transport the Tabernacle and its vessels: 8,580.
Third Aliyah: Now that G‑d’s presence graces the Tabernacle, G‑d instructs the Jewish people to banish certain ritually impure individuals from their encampments. Most of them were only barred from entering the Tabernacle area and its immediate environs. Only one who suffered from tzara’at (“leprosy”) was sent out of the general encampment. This section then discusses the restitution and Temple sacrifice required of one who robs his fellow and then falsely swears to maintain his innocence. If one robs a convert who then dies without leaving any heirs, the restitution is made to a priest. Also included in this section is the mitzvah to verbally confess one’s sins, and a person’s right to select a priest of his liking to whom to give the various required priestly gifts.
Fourth Aliyah: This rather lengthy section contains three concepts: 1) The ceremony for the sotah, a suspected adulteress who was witnessed going into seclusion with another man—despite being warned not to associate with that individual. The woman is brought to the Temple. This section of the Torah is written on parchment and then soaked in water until the ink dissolves. The woman drinks the water. If she indeed willingly committed adultery, her belly miraculously swells and she dies a gruesome death. If she is unharmed by the waters, she is cleared of any suspicion. 2) The laws of the individual who vows to be a Nazirite. Such a person must abstain from wine and grape products, allow his/her hair to grow, and may not come in contact with a human corpse. At the conclusion of the term of the vow, the Nazirite brings certain offerings in the Temple. 3) The priestly blessings.
Fifth Aliyah: On the day when the Tabernacle was inaugurated, the tribal leaders wished to bring inauguration gifts. Collectively they brought six covered wagons and twelve oxen to assist in transporting the Tabernacle when the Jews traveled. In addition, as representative of their respective tribes, they wished to offer individual gifts and offering. G‑d instructed Moses to accept these gifts, and that on each the following twelve days one of the leaders should bring his individual gifts. Although each leader brought identical gifts, the Torah describes each one individually.
Sixth Aliyah: This section continues the descriptions of the tribal leaders’ gifts.
Seventh Aliyah: The gifts of all the leaders are added up and the totals given. The last verse describes how G‑d would talk to Moses, His voice emanating from between the two Cherubs atop the Holy Ark.
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