Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Nasso

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In the middle of Parshas Nasso is the formulation of Birkas Kohanim - the priestly blessings. The Ramban notes that there was a prior command to bless the Jews in Parshas Shemini (Vayikra 9:22) wherein Hashem commanded Aharon to bless the Jews in connection with the completion of the mishkan. However, the difference between the two blessings is that the blessing in Shemini was event driven, whereas the blessing in Nasso is an ongoing command.

Rashi in Parshas Shemini states that the blessing Aharon gave in Shemini was the actual formulation of the bracha which is recited in Nasso. The Ramban argues and states that the blessing given in Shemini was not the three bracha formulation we are familiar with.

R' Frand asked - why is the blessing of the Kohanim in Nasso? Sefer Vayikra was all about the duties and responsibilities of the Kohanim. Why should Birkas Kohanim appear in Nasso? The parsha certainly does not need the extra pesukim.

R' Frand answered his question by quoting the sefer Chikrei Lev who explains that there was a specific event which necessitated the command to bless the Jews. In Nasso, the Jews are counted again, but in a different manner from the way they were counted in Ki Sissa. In Ki Sissa, the Jews donated shekalim which were counted and in that way the census was taken. However in Nasso, each Jew was counted as a member of his household and tribe. Chazal write that each Jew came before Moshe and Aharon and recited his name, his father's name, his shevet and his yichus. Additionally, each tribe now had a place in the marching order and specific responsibilities.

The Chikrei Lev explained that in Sefer Bamidbar there are now individuals and individual tribe or familiar responsibilities and in Parshas Nasso there are "holier than thou" people - the Nazirim. This is fertile ground for backbiting and jealousy. Once there was the potential for divisiveness, Hashem required the blessing of Kohanim which ends with Shalom. We learn that every blessing requires peace because as taught by Rashi in Bechukosai that if there is no Shalom, there is nothing.

How does one have Shalom? By being happy with what one has. Hashem can give you a bracha of resources and that they are safely yours. But if the person looks at another and is jealous that he has more, there is no Shalom.

In these parshios where people are differentiated and there is a potential for strife, there is a need for Shalom.

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