Torah Quiz Time: Which is the longest single sedrah in the Torah? You guessed correctly. It is the sedrah we read this week: Naso, the second of the parshiyot in the Book of Bamidbar. It contains many interesting subjects including the laws of the Nazir (one who vows to abstain from certain acts and practices), the laws of the Sotah (a practice designed to maintain peace in the home where infidelity is suspected), the extremely famous Birkat Kohanim — “Priestly Blessing,” an impressive dedication of the Mishkan and more!
In reading Naso, it is beyond curious that the recital of the dedication gifts of the princes of each of the Tribes goes on in repetitive fashion for pages. Each gift is identical. Nobody brought more than anyone else or tried to show anyone else up. Since we know of the Torah as being extremely spare and economical with descriptive words, one wonders why the Torah would not simply say that each of the 12 princes brought the following gift….. and just say it once. This is a very good Parasha for a bar mitzvah celebrant to leyn because the same paragraph repeats itself 12 times! I should know because this is the anniversary of my bar mitzvah!
The Sages teach us two lessons from the princes’ gifts: 1) the gift that each individual brings or gives as service to our People, to Israel or to our community is individually and separately precious to God. Each gift is special because of the intention of the donor and 2) that in doing the right thing, it is not about competition. Climbing the ladder of success can be done without stepping on anyone else’s head. People can do the right thing while at the same time be respectful of the feelings of others.
This Shabbat at Adat Shalom, we are privileged to learn with teacher extraordinaire Ruth Bergman. In addition to an overview of the Parasha, she is going to do a deep dive into the Birkat Kohanim. This blessing is so profound and meaningful, yet, its ubiquity has caused many of us to take its true meaning for granted. At Adat Shalom, we have maintained the beautiful tradition of the benediction by the Kohanim on the Shalosh Regalim as well as on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. However, the Birkat Kohanim is used as the basis for the blessing of our children every Shabbat in addition to its use at nearly every life cycle event. If you have not plumbed the depths of meaning of this blessing, you owe it to yourself to be a part of our Torah Study this Shabbat.
We begin at 9:45 and end in time for the Rabbi’s Drasha. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.