The Inseparable Connection: Family Unity and National Peace in Parshat Naso

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by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Parshat Naso continues the national themes introduced in Parshat Bamidbar. It examines national matters such as the size, roles, and location of the tribes of Israel: “לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לְבֵית אֲבֹתָם” (“According to their families, by their fathers’ households”). The parsha then presents unique commandments:

  1. The commandment of purity: “צַו אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וִישַׁלְּחוּ מִן-הַמַּחֲנֶה כָּל-צָרוּעַ וְכָל-זָב וְכֹל טָמֵא לָנָפֶשׁ” (“Instruct the Children of Israel to send out of the camp every leper, everyone with a discharge, and everyone defiled by a dead person”).
  2. The prohibition of theft: “דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם לִמְעֹל מַעַל” (“Speak to the Children of Israel: If a man or woman commits any sin against a person by committing a trespass …”).

  3. The prohibition of adultery: “אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי-תִשְׂטֶה אִשְׁתּוֹ וּמָעֲלָה בוֹ מָעַל” (“If any man’s wife goes astray and acts unfaithfully against him”).

  4. The obligations of the Nazirite who abstains from wine: “כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר נָזִיר” (“If any man takes the Nazirite vow …….”).

There is a common thread linking these commandments: the connection between the laws of purity and the prohibition of theft emphasizes the importance of not harming others, whether through impurity or, Heaven forbid, through theft. These laws stress the need to respect others and avoid causing them harm.

The Sages also explain the link between the sotah (unfaithful wife) and the Nazirite: one who witnesses the sotah in her moment of disgrace should learn from this and distance themselves from situations that could lead to becoming a sotah by becoming a Nazirite who abstains from wine. “כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדֹּר נֶדֶר נָזִיר” (“If any man takes the Nazirite vow to abstain ……..”). The sequence of these laws, culminating in the laws of the, underscores a critical message.

The Birkhat Kohanim concludes with the words: “…וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם” (“and bestow upon you peace”). There is a debate about what this “peace” refers to: Rabbi Chanina the Deputy High Priest believes it refers to domestic peace, while Rabbi Nathan interprets it as national peace, the peace of the Davidic monarchy.

רבי חנינא סגן הכהנים אומר: “וישם לך שלום” בביתך. רבי נתן אומר: זה שלום מלכות בית דוד, שנאמר (ישעיהו ט): “למרבה המשרה ולשלום אין קץ”. (ספרי במדבר ו’)

“Rabbi Chanina the Deputy High Priest says: ‘And bestow upon you peace’ means in your home. Rabbi Nathan says: This is the peace of the Davidic monarchy, as it is stated (Yeshayahu 9): ‘For the increase of the dominion and for peace without end.'” (Sifrei Bamidbar 6)

While these views appear distinct, they can be reconciled by recognizing that both sages ultimately address national peace. For the Jewish people to achieve true peace, both types are essential: peace on the national level, including harmony with enemies and within the nation, and peace within the home, where a secure and harmonious family unit is crucial for achieving comprehensive national peace.

The Torah emphasizes that the strength of the Jewish people depends on the stability and wholeness of individual family units. Although the nation is large and composed of many individuals and families, it is ultimately a collection of family units. Without peace in private homes, peace cannot prevail on the national level. The recitation of the Birkhat Kohanim includes both intimate domestic peace and broad national peace, reflecting true all-encompassing unity.

In these difficult times when Israel is fighting for survival, the lesson to be learned is that peace with our enemies will be achieved if there is first peace within and between our families.

About Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weisz is a member of The Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel

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