Nasso – A thought for the week by Michael Lewis

The 1st part of this, the longest of all the Sedrot, seems to be a direct continuation of the end of Bamidbar last week; it is all about counting and allocating tasks. It includes the contentious trial by ordeal of the Sotah ritual and the description of the rites of the Nazir and his oaths. We read the repetitious listing of the offerings by each of the tribes.

The allocation of different tasks to the various families reminds us that our individual endeavours, whether we see them as large or small, indicate that we are all vital cogs in the world in which we live.

Repetition of the tribal offerings, each identical, reminds us that we are all valued in the same way. We hear the priestly blessing, which remains part and parcel of our lives to this day.

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
May Lord bless you and protect you; May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

That is something that we can all pray for in these difficult times; for ourselves, our families and for all our fellow Jews both here and in Israel and in the wider world.

At the end of the Sedra, Moses is described as entering the Tent of Meeting:

he would hear the voice speaking to him from the two cherubim above the covering which was over the Ark of Testimony, and He spoke to him.

There are times when it is easy to give in to fear and despair and wonder where God is. In the 19th century the Kotzker Rabbi responded to that question by saying.

Whoever cannot see God everywhere does not really see God anywhere.
Where is God? God is where we let the Divine in.
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