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Naso 5766

Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING! We just finished celebrating Shavuos and the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. For the past several thousand years the vast majority of Jews - and the majority of the world's non-Jewish population - believed that God gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai 3,318 years ago. Almost the totality of Jews during this time believed that God dictated the Torah to Moshe who wrote it down word for word, letter for letter. This means that what is written in the Torah is precise and meant to convey a specific meaning.

The Torah is an instruction book for life. We study it and the commentaries, particularly the Mishna and Gemara, to understand those lessons. Though we read the portion from Yisro in the Book of Exodus about the giving of the Ten Commandments, the giving of the Ten Commandments is also told in the portion of Va'etchanan in the Book of Deuteronomy. It is fascinating to note that there are many differences in the wording of the Ten Commandments in the two sections. Sloppy editor? Not if you believe that God dictated the Torah and that Moses wrote it down exactly word for word, letter for letter. So, what can we learn from these differences?

The following compares the differences regarding the Commandment of Shabbat. It is adapted from a piece originally written by my friend and Aish colleague, Rabbi Shraga Simmons. Note the differences in the two sections which I have CAPITALIZED.


In the Book of Exodus (chapter 20, verse 9) the Commandment is stated:

"REMEMBER the Day of Shabbat to sanctify it. Six days you should work, and do all of your craftsman-type-work. And the Seventh Day, should be a Shabbat to the Almighty your God, you should not do any craftsman-type-work you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maidservant, YOUR ANIMAL, or your convert that is in your gates. BECAUSE SIX DAYS THE ALMIGHTY CREATED THE HEAVENS AND EARTH, SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN IT, AND HE RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY, therefore the ALMIGHTY BLESSED THE SHABBAT AND MADE IT HOLY."

In the Book of Deuteronomy (chapter 5, verse 12) the Commandment is stated:

"OBSERVE the Day of Shabbat to sanctify it, LIKE THAT THE ALMIGHTY YOUR GOD COMMANDED YOU. Six days you should word and do all of your craftsman-type work. And the Seventh Day, should be a Shabbat to the Almighty your God. You should not do any craftsman-type-work you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maidservant, YOUR OX, YOUR DONKEY, AND ALL YOUR ANIMALS, and your convert that is in your gates, FOR THE SAKE THAT HE SHOULD REST YOUR SERVANT AND HAND MAID LIKE YOU. YOU SHOULD REMEMBER BECAUSE YOU WERE SLAVES IN EGYPT, AND THE ALMIGHTY YOUR GoD TOOK YOU OUT FROM THERE WITH A STRONG HAND AND OUTSTRETCHED ARM, THEREFORE, THE ALMIGHTY YOUR GOD COMMANDED YOU TO DO THE DAY OF SHABBAT."

Here are explanations of two differences:


The commandment to REMEMBER means that one should remember Shabbat throughout the week. Buying something special for Shabbat can fulfill this commandment. Also, the Song of the Day, which is part of the morning service, also fulfills this commandment seeing that its introduction always mentions Shabbat. Even merely reciting the day of the week in Hebrew can fulfill this commandment since the name of the days in Hebrew are "First Day", "Second Day", "Third Day" ... as they count towards the Shabbat!

The mitzvah of REMEMBERING also includes the positive commandments of the day - to make Kiddush, have special meals. The word "OBSERVE" means to not transgress the prohibitions forbidden on the Sabbath - i.e., lighting a fire. (There are 39 Categories of Creative Acts which one refrains on Shabbat.)


The Torah tells us in Exodus that we should keep Shabbat as a testimony to God's creation of the world. In Deuteronomy it says we should keep Shabbat because God took us out from Egypt.

If a person were to keep Shabbat only because God created the world, he would miss an important point - that God didn't merely create the world and step out of the picture. God has a personal relationship with every human being and constantly involves Himself with the world that He created.

Keeping Shabbat because God took us out of Egypt, is testimony that God is involved in our lives. That is because God stated, "I took you out of Egypt to be your God" (Numbers 15:41). In other words, "I TOOK YOU OUT OF EGYPT on condition that we should have a relationship. You will be My nation and I will BE YOUR GOD." God not only created the world, but has a living relationship with us.

If you are interested in learning more about Shabbat, read "Sabbath Day of Eternity," by Aryeh Kaplan (published by Moznaim.) If you are interested in the evidence that God dictated the Torah to Moses who faithfully transcribed it, read Permission to Receive by Lawrence Kelemen (you might as well order Permission to Believe by Kelemen, too. It gives the evidence for God's existence.) Available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

For more on "The Ten Commandments" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

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 Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah tells the Kohanim to bless the Jewish people. The blessing
begins with:

"May the Lord bless you and keep you." (Numbers 6:24)

Why are the Jewish people blessed in the singular?

Rabbi Moshe of Sassov explains that this is to teach us that the greatest blessing is that of unity. When we feel as if we are one unit, with togetherness, then we are truly blessed - and we feel that blessing.

It is easy to focus on the differences among people and to consider yourself as separate from others. Truly no two people are exactly alike. However, there are many common factors among people. By focusing on the fact that every human being is created in the image of the Almighty, you will have greater identification with others and this will lead to greater unity.

(or Go to

Jerusalem 7:09
Guatemala 6:14 - Hong Kong 6:48 - Honolulu 6:54
J'Burg 5:04 - London 8:57 - Los Angeles 7:45
Melbourne 4:49 - Mexico City 6:56 - Miami 7:54

New York 8:08 - Singapore 6:51 - Toronto 8:39


Fair is not always equal
and equal is not always fair

Mazal Tov on the Marriage of
Lance Feldman & Jaime Kahn


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