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Naso 5779

Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  What is the essence of friendship? Virtually all of us have people we enjoy being with and doing things with, but what is the difference between an acquaintance and a friend?

There's a Midrash which tells of a businessman in ancient times from the Land of Israel who was accused of being a spy. After being condemned to death, the man requests 30 days to return home to put his affairs in order and to say good-bye to his family. The judge laughs at the ridiculous request; the man responds that he has a friend who will stay in jail in his place until he comes back -- and if he doesn't come back, his friend will die in his place.

This the judge had to see. So, they send for the friend. Sure enough, he agrees to stand bond in place of his friend all the way up to the noose.

The businessman returns home, puts his affairs in order, says good-bye to his family and returns with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, there is a storm at sea and he is delayed. He arrives shortly before the time he is to be executed. He runs to the town square where his friend is already at the gallows; he screams, "No, it is I who is to be executed!" And his friend yells back, "No, you're too late!" They create such a commotion and confusion that the king calls for them to be brought before him.

Each presents his case and then they begin to argue with each other about who is to be executed. Finally, the king stops them and says, "I will pardon you both on one condition -- that you make me a third friend!"

What is the essence of friendship? Loyalty. A true friend is always there for you. The Hebrew word for friend is "chaver" -- from the word "chibbur" which means attached, joined. A true friend is someone whose love is unconditional, who will be there for you always. The very foundation of friendship is loyalty.

A true friend does not condone wrong behavior and immoral choices. However, he is there to support, to reprove, to help his friend get his life back on track. He cares enough about you to tell you when you are wrong, but he does it with love and in a way that you can hear. A true friend will help you grow as a human being and to reach your goals.

One would not choose a surgeon just because he seems to be a nice guy. Choosing a friend is serious business; friends influence your life -- and come with responsibilities! Know what traits you want in a friend before seeking friendship. Be careful of committing to a friendship haphazardly. Make sure you choose the right friends!

How does one make a true friend? First, be careful who you choose to be your friend. If friendship implies commitment and loyalty, you should select your friends carefully. A friend can help you elevate yourself in life or he can bring you down. Know the character and history of someone before making him a friend.

Pirke Avos, Ethics of the Fathers, (a compendium of Jewish wisdom found in the back of most Jewish prayer books) gives the following advice: "K'nei l'cha chaver" which translates as "Buy for yourself a friend." Obviously, one cannot buy friendship -- although I did have a college roommate who always told me "Friends stay friends longer when they give gifts" (problem was, he always wanted to be on the receiving end...).

However, friendship does take investment. The best vitamin for acquiring a friend is B1. If one wants a person to be his friend, then he has to give the commitment and loyalty in order to get it in return. (It is much like marriage.) One must watch out for his friend's best interest and to be there for him. By the way, if you want to see who loves you and is concerned about you -- look at who cares about your children. If your friend cares about your children, he really cares about you!


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

June 14
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:10
Guatemala 6:14 - Hong Kong 6:50 - Honolulu 6:56
J'Burg 5:05 - London 9:01 - Los Angeles 7:48
Melbourne 4:49 - Mexico City 7:58 - Miami 7:55
New York 8:10 - Singapore 6:53 - Toronto 8:42

Quote of the Week

A friend is someone who knows
everything about you --
and likes you anyway



With Special Thanks to

Stanley & Susan Rosenblatt

With Deep Appreciation to

Dr. & Mrs. Stuart



With Profound Gratitude to

Rebecca Metsch

In Loving Memory of

Alfred Asher Finkelstein



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