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Naso 5775

Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  What would you be willing to do to keep your spouse -- or yourself -- from falling into an affair? Throughout the ages Jews have been known to have strong marriages and a low divorce rate. This didn't happen by accident. There are a number of reasons, including a system of fences institusoted by the Torah and the Sages, to protect marriages. But ... first a story... (and yes, it really did happen!)

At a public event I once met a woman. I introduced myself, she introduced herself and then she lifted her hand to shake my hand. I started to lift my hand when she quickly pulled back her hand and screamed, "You won't shake my hand because you're Orthodox!"

I told her that it is true that I don't offer my hand first, but if a woman extends her hand, I shake it rather than embarrass her by not taking it. Then I asked, "Would you like to know why I don't offer to shake hands with other women?"

"No!" she replied. "I'm a liberal and nothing you would say could convince me!"

I responded, "Well, if you are a liberal then that means that you have an open mind to gather the facts before coming to a conclusion. Perhaps you would like to hear my reason before concluding that it doesn't have merit?" She paused for a moment and said, "Well, if you put it that way, I guess so."

"I save all of my handshakes for my wife. If one doesn't shake hands with other women -- then the physical relationship will never progress beyond that point. It protects the marital relationship."

She thought this over for a moment. "Ah, but you shake hands with other men, don't you? Aren't you afraid you'll stray with them?"

I told her, "This may come as a great surprise to you, but I am not attracted to other men nor are most men."

"Well," she retorted, "It should be the same!"

No one said it is easy being a rabbi! But to my point -- marriage is the foundation stone of society. What would we as individuals and as a society be willing to do to protect our marriages?

Thousands of years ago our Sages placed protective fences to ensure the fidelity of that relationship. If a person wishes to stray, nothing will stop him or her. However, if one is not put into a situation of temptation then he or she will not fall prey to it. Perhaps there is a parallel to eating just one cookie ... and ending up eating the whole package.

What are the fences surrounding and protecting a marital relationship? Three primary ones are:

1) Issur negiah -- One does not touch a member of the opposite sex who is not one's spouse, son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter, brother/sister, father/mother, grandfather/grandmother. (Leviticus 18:6)

2) Yichud -- one does not seclude himself/herself with a member of the opposite sex. The door remains open or one makes sure that other people are present. (Kiddushin 80b on Deut. 13:7)

3) Tznius -- Dressing and acting with modesty. The essence is to dress in a manner that does not accentuate the body. This prevents enticing the opposite sex and enables relating to another person as a person and not as a sex object. Even speech is directed to be respectful, not flirtatious or lascivious. We are souls housed in bodies. The goal is to relate to each other on a soul level. (Micah 6:8)

In our society we have laws against sexual harassment. A look, a word, a caress or an action -- and one can be sued, lose his position, be fined, or perhaps jailed. How prescient our Torah and our Sages to establish a means for people to relate with each other that minimizes these situations and problems!


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Torah Portion of the week

Naso, Numbers 4:21 - 7:89

This week's portion includes further job instructions to the Levites, Moshe is instructed to purify the camp in preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary.

Then four laws relating to the Cohanim are given: 1) restitution for stolen property where the owner is deceased and has no next of kin -- goes to the Cohanim 2) If a man suspects his wife of being unfaithful, he brings her to the Cohanim for the Sotah clarification ceremony 3) If a person chooses to withdraw from the material world and consecrate himself exclusively to the service of the Almighty by becoming a Nazir (vowing not to drink wine or eat grape products, come in contact with dead bodies or cut his hair), he must come to the Cohen at the completion of the vow, 4) the Cohanim were instructed to bless the people with this blessing: "May the Lord bless you and guard over you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace."

The Mishkan is erected and dedicated on the first of Nissan in the second year after the Exodus. The leaders of each tribe jointly give wagons and oxen to transport the Mishkan. During each of the twelve days of dedication, successively each tribal prince gives gifts of gold and silver vessels, sacrificial animals and meal offerings. Every prince gives exactly the same gifts as every other prince.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Part of the blessing which the Cohanim, the priests, bless the Jewish people is:

"The Lord shall make His face shine upon you." (Numbers 6:25)

One of the 613 commandments is to emulate the Almighty. What can we learn from this verse to emulate the Almighty?

The great sage Shamai said, "Greet every man with a pleasant expression of countenance" (Pirke Avos, 1:15) -- in this manner, we are "shining our countenance upon others". How can we have a "shining" countenance?

  1. Look at the Person -- The minimum is to turn your face towards your fellow man; don't greet anyone with the side of your face. Turn your face towards him/her.
  2. Express Interest -- Don't look bored or distracted.
  3. Feel Happy -- to see the person and let your face show it!

Since God deals with us measure for measure, God makes His face shine upon those whose faces shine to their fellow human being!


Candle Lighting Times

May 29
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:02
Guatemala 6:09 - Hong Kong 6:34 - Honolulu 6:50
J'Burg 5:05 - London 8:46 - Los Angeles 7:19
Melbourne 4:52 - Mexico City 7:43 - Miami 7:49
New York 8:00 - Singapore 6:50 - Toronto 8:32

Quote of the Week

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind
... and won't change the subject
--  Sir Winston Churchill



Happy Anniversary

Yehuda & Ali Beilin

You bring great joy to
our lives!

--  Babi & Zeyde


Happy Birthday

Tom Raskin


In Loving Memory of

Alfred Asher



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