The taste of Shabbat – Naso 5778
Rav Mordechai Elon
The 4th reading of our parsha is a challenge, 41 verses, the first 21 talking about the difficult subject of the sotah, the wife accused of adultery. The end 6 verses have birkat kohanim, the priest's blessing, and in the middle the laws of the nazir – the abstinent.
… אישׁ אוֹ אִשָָּׁ֗ה כִִּ֤י יַפְלִא֙ לִנְדֹּר֙ נ דֶֶ֣ר נָזִִ֔יר לְהַזִִּ֖יר ל ה'. –
A man or woman who sets himself apart by making a nazirite vow to abstain for the sake of the Lord.
The abstention is from wine. Rashi tells us that it is 2… לשם שמים. For the sake of heaven.
The nazir decides to abstain from certain pleasures, the Torah tells us his laws and then what happens if he decides to cease his vow or it ends for another reason.
What is a nazir? Why does he take vows upon himself? Is it a good or a bad thing?
Usually the world can be divided into two: Either you are born into a certain reality, or status – Kohen, Levi, Yisrael etc, or something happens to you: you become impure , sin, or something to do with your health. You are either born into a situation or find yourself in it. The nazir is neither of these two. What is his story?
We must also ask why these laws are in the middle of Parshat Naso –in between the princes who donated wagons to carry the mishkan, and the leviim who camped in the middle of Israel in the desert?