Shavuot/Parshat Naso by: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
Archimedes’ principle states that the upwardly lifting buoyant force that is exerted on a body immersed in a fluid, whether fully or partially submerged, is equal to the weight of the fluid that the body displaces. In Torah we find a concept similar to this which states that “the Ark lifted those who lifted it” when Israel crossed the Jordan, so too the Torah “supports” those who occupy themselves with it. For example, the Mishna in Avot says that “all those that keep the Torah despite poverty will merit to keep the Torah in wealth.”
The name of this week’s Parsha, Naso, meaning “to lift up”, ties together much of the topics discussed in the Parsha and on Shavuot, always occurring adjacent to this Parsha, as well. Our first title quote from the reading for Shavuot shows us God’s love for us preceding the Giving of the Torah, describing the exodus from Egypt to Mount Sinai as an ascent “on the wings of eagles” towards HaShem. Similarly, Midrash Tehilim, 48 says that the future redemption will be by an ascent to the heavens (literally (plane-flight?) and/or spiritually) to the Land of Israel. In Parshat Naso this motif continues, as in the “lifting” or choosing of the Gershonites for Divine service, which involves “lifting” the different parts of the Mishkan. Later in the Parsha, we are blessed by the Cohanim in what our Sages call “the lifting of hands”, which also concludes with the words: “May HaShem lift His Countenance upon you and give you peace.” Our Parsha ends with gifts to the Mishkan given by the princes of Israel, called “Nesiim”, which means “those lifted above the people.” While in all these instances, the same root, nun, sin, aleph, meaning “to lift”, literally and grammatically reappears, in many instances in this Parsha “lifting up” reappears in a conceptual way. Take for example our second title quote: The Nazirite is bid not to impurify himself to the dead, because he has a “crown” (“nezer”) of God upon his head (growth of hair for the sake of HaShem). A crown is an ornament, par excellence, lifted upon one’s head, signifying an individual’s status “lifted above the people”, as we explained with the word “nesiim”. Indeed, a king is called a “nasi” in Vayikra 4, 22. Because of this special “lifted up” status, the Nazirite is not to deal at all with the dead, those whose life-lifting souls have left them.
These ideas come full circle with the entrance of Israel to the Land of Israel when the Cohanim were lifted by the Ark, as mentioned above in regard to Archimedes’ buoyancy principle. The fact that the entrance to the Holy Land began with this miracle may show that since the Land of Israel is also the Land associated with the Torah, as it says “from Zion the Torah shall come forth,” it also follows that those who make effort, i.e “to lift/carry” upon themselves the “burdens” of coming to the Holy Land, will be thereby also “lifted” themselves towards both personal and collective prosperity and salvation in the Land of Israel. Indeed, may these brave Jews be “lifted up” as princes (and Nazirites) in the Palace of our Father-King, “lifted up” in the crowns of the Torah of Zion (see Hagiga 5b), “lifted up” in the spirit of Hebron, First Kingdom of David, burial place of Ruth and Yishai his predecessors (according to Arizal), springboard of inspiration for the brave figure of Kaleb, his predecessor of Judah: “For my servant Kaleb… a different spirit was with him” (Num 14, 24).
Miracles from the Holy Land: The Gas Attack That Never Was:
During the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq threatened to use chemical weapons on Israel, a country that was not actively participating in the conflict. As Iraq bombarded Israel with rockets, the country prepared for the likely possibility of a chemical attack. However, one never occurred. Why? Strangely enough, wind patterns changed from the normal directions to blow East from Israel going directly towards Iraq. The U.S. military theorized that the odd weather changes likely served as the major cause for Iraq’s decision not to employ chemical warfare, since the winds would have caused any gas attacks on Israel to harm Iraq as well.