Category Archives: Parshas Naso

Parshas Naso: Open the Faucet and Receive the Flow of Mercy!

Parshas Naso

Open the Faucet and Receive the Flow of Mercy!


“They shall confess the sins which they committed and return the principal amount [of the object] of his guilt and add one fifth to that amount….” (Bamidbar 5:7)

The Jacoby’s were planning on celebrating sheva brachos that evening, in the yard that they shared with their neighbor. Mr. Jacoby asked his neighbor, Mr. Leibowitz, for permission to plug loudspeakers and lights into his electric outlets. Mr. Leibowitz graciously agreed. A few hours later, the sheva brachos began. At midnight, the festivities were still going strong. The music, singing, and speeches were amplified loudly by the loudspeakers. Finally, Mr. Leibowitz called Mr. Jacoby, asking him to please stop using the loudspeakers, since it was so late. Mr. Jacoby assured him that that the party would soon be over. A little while later, the loudspeakers were still booming. Mrs. Leibowitz suggested to her husband, “Why not just unplug their extension cord?” Mr. Leibowitz realized that, indeed, that would be the simplest solution since the electricity for the loudspeakers was coming from his own outlet. As he went to pull the cord, he looked outside. Just then, he saw that the men were dancing around the chosson. Everyone was smiling and happy. Mr. Leibowitz hesitated. How would the chosson, kallah, and their guests feel if the sheva brachos suddenly turned dark. He decided not to interrupt the festivities and did not unplug the electricity. (Tomer Devorah by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero adapted by Rabbi Shmuel Meir Riachi)

The mitzvah of viduy, confessing one’s sins, is the foundation of repentance for every sin. In that case, why is it specifically written in this pasuk which talks about repentance for the sin of theft? The Chidushei HaRim zt”l answers, that every sin which we do, has, within it, an aspect of theft. How so? Hashem gave us life to fulfill His will. When we use our lives and abilities to sin against Hashem, we are in effect stealing from Hashem. Therefore, it is appropriate to write viduy in the pasuk discussing theft. (Quoted in Iturei Torah by Aharon Yaakov Greenberg) 

The Midrash (Bereishis 33:3) tells of a time when there was a drought. The prayers of the tzaddikim did not bring relief. A simple act of kindness, performed by one ordinary person, was the final act that rescued everyone from starvation. Rabbi Tanchuma understood that mercy practiced in our world awakens corresponding mercy in heaven which then flows down to us. And that is why the famine ended.

After the sin of the golden calf, Moshe prayed to Hashem who forgave the Jewish People for it. After his supplications were accepted, Moses felt that it was an auspicious moment to ask Hashem to grant the Jewish people a way to obtain mercy, should they fall and sin again, in the future. Hashem revealed the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy with which Hashem conducts the world.

The Talmud (Rosh Hashana 17B) quotes Rabbi Yehudah who says that “a covenant was established regarding the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy that they will never be returned empty-handed.”

 The Talmud (Shabbos 133B) brings the pasuk, “This is my G-D and I will glorify Him.” (Shmos 15:2). Abba Shaul says, “Ve’anveihu” (“and I will glorify Him”) should be interpreted as if it were written in two words: Ani vaHu, me and Him [Hashem]. We should emulate Hashem’s ways. Just as Hashem is compassionate and merciful, so too should we be compassionate and merciful.

When we copy Hashem’s ways and transform our feelings into mercy, we awaken mercy in heaven, bringing a flow of blessing upon us.

Sefer Tomer Devorah teaches us how to emulate Hashem’s Thirteen Attributes which are hinted to in Neviim, sefer Micah (7: 18-20). “Who is a G-D like You, who pardons iniquity, and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He does not maintain his anger forever, because He delights in mercy.”

The Tomer Devorah says that the first of the Thirteen Attributes of mercy is that Hashem bears insult. At the very time that a person sins against Hashem, Hashem still allows that person life and movement of his limbs. The very limbs that are sinning against Hashem! Hashem bears the affront while still supplying the sinner the ability to sin against Him. Hashem’s patience is beyond description!

Although it is not always easy, we are supposed to copy this characteristic of Hashem. Even if we are insulted, we should not withhold our goodness and kindness to the very one who harms us. We should do so even if we constantly do favors for a person, and he displays such ingratitude by using the same favors to harm us.

When we ignore insults and emulate Hashem’s trait of forbearance and kindness,

we bring a flow of mercy from heaven to us and to our world!


Parshas Naso: Good Things Come in Small Packages!

Parshas Naso

Good Things Come in Small Packages!


“…A man or woman who shall separate themselves by taking a vow to become a nazir, to abstain for the sake of Hashem.” (Bamidbar 6:2)

I remember reading a very beautiful story.                                                               

Avrumi was nine years old. His mother had passed away a few years earlier and his older sister, Leah, was taking care of him. He felt so close to Leah who was like a mother to him. Leah’s birthday was approaching, and Avrumi wanted to do something special for her. One day, the two of them passed a jewelry store. Leah saw a necklace displayed in the window and remarked that it was so beautiful. Avrumi immediately decided that this was the gift that he wanted to buy for his sister. He went home, opened his piggy bank, and counted the money he had saved. He had thirteen dollars and seventy-six cents. He rushed to the jewelry store. He went inside and asked the owner how much the necklace in the window cost. The owner was surprised that a young child should be asking about buying a necklace that was valued at over one thousand dollars. He asked the boy why he wanted to buy it. Avrumi explained that his mother had passed away and his sister took such special care of him. Her birthday was approaching, and he wanted to give her a special present. The storeowner asked Avrumi how much money he had. Avrumi poured the contents of his piggy bank on the counter, a collection of pennies, dimes, nickels, and a few quarters.  He said that he had thirteen dollars and seventy-six cents. He asked with childish innocence, “Is this enough money?”. The store owner was a kind man and was touched by Avrumi’s total sincerity. He said, “What a coincidence. That is exactly what the necklace cost.” Avrumi gave a huge smile as the storeowner wrapped-up the necklace. A few days later, Avrumi gave Leah her present. She was so touched. Then she asked Avrumi where he had purchased it. She realized that this was an expensive necklace and felt that the storekeeper must have given it to Avrumi by mistake. She brought the necklace back to the store and said that there must have been a mistake. The storekeeper looked at Leah and told her that there was no mistake. The necklace was paid in full!  Avrumi’s complete love for his sister had touched the storeowner’s heartstrings and he accepted that love as full payment for the necklace. 

In the time of the Beis HaMikdash, a person could choose to take a vow to become closer to Hashem by becoming a nazir. As such, he was forbidden to have wine or grape byproducts, he was forbidden to cut his hair, and he was forbidden to become tamei lmais, ritually impure through proximity to a dead body. Usually, one became a nazir for thirty days, after which he had to shave his head and bring specific sacrifices to Hashem. If the nazir became tamei lmais, he had to shave his head, bring a special korban, sacrifice, and had to restart his time as a nazir. The Talmud (Nedarim 9B) states that Shimon HaTzadik, the Kohain Gadol, never ate the korban of a ritually impure nazir, except once. A very handsome a nazir, became tamei lmais and went to offer a korban. Shimon HaTazadik saw him and asked why he had decided to become a nazir, necessitating him to shave off his beautiful hair. The nazir replied that once while shepherding his father’s flock, he had noticed his reflection in the water. After he saw his beautiful hair, the yetzer hara had tried to entice him to sin. He responded by becoming a nazir and shaving his hair for the sake of Hashem. Shimon HaTzaddik was exceedingly impressed. This nazir had done something beautiful but why did Shimon HaTzadik accept only his korban and no other nazirs.

The Eitz Yosef (in sefer Ein Yaakov, in Nedarim) explains that some nazirs who became ritually impure regretted having ever become nazirs because they had to restart their time as a nazir. Their regret diminished the holiness of the korban that they had to bring. That is why Shimon HaTzadik never accepted any of their korbanos. However, this nazir became a nazir in private, without fanfare. He did it totally for the sake of Hashem. So much so, that Shimon HaTzadik was certain that this nazir felt no such regret. Thus, his korban maintained its holiness. Therefore, Shimon HaTzadik accepted it and attributed to him the pasuk, “ki yafli lidor” (Bamidbar 6:2), which the Ibn Ezra explains, means that by becoming a nazir, one is doing something wonderous.

Is the action of a nazir so special that it is considered wonderous? Is it so difficult to abstain from wine and not take a haircut for a mere thirty days? Rabbi Yaakov Neiman in sefer Darchei Mussar (as quoted in Yalkut Lekech Tov by Rabbi Yisroel Beifus) says, that abstention, in of itself, was not such a big deal. However, if the intent was totally for Hashem, that elevated a mundane action into something very special. A very special mitzvah can become tainted if done with ulterior motives such as for personal aggrandizement or praise.  However, a relatively “small mitzvah” done with total purity of heart, totally for the sake of Hashem, is very precious to Hashem, as a pure korban.

Our goal should be to try to perform mitzvos with total purity of heart. Each chapter of Pirkei Avos ends with a quote from the Talmud (Makos 23B), “Rabbi Chanania ben Akashya says, “Hashem, blessed is He, wants to give merit to the Jewish People, therefore He gave us Torah and an abundance of mitzvos….” The Rambam (in his Perush Al HaMishnayos) says that one of the foundations of our belief is that one merits life in the World to Come by doing at least one mitzvah properly, with total heartfelt devotion to Hashem. It must be done out of love for Hashem, solely to fulfill Hashem’s will. Then he will merit life in the World to Come. Therefore, Hashem gave us many different mitzvos to give each of us the opportunity to observe at least one mitzvah perfectly, thereby inheriting a portion in Olam Haba.