Parshah Naso

Parshat Naso: What the Torah Says About Healthy Marriages

Hold onto your hats, this is a really intense G-dcast. One of the oddest, most thorny episodes in the Bible involves a man who suspects his wife of adultery. Inbal Freund-Novick, an Israeli activist for women’s rights, tells the difficult tale of the accused wife in Parshat Naso. Hard to believe this stuff is in the Torah, but it’s undeniably fascinating.

A Sacred Time – Sivan #1

Rosh Chodesh

During Sivan we celebrate receiving the Torah on Shavuos. Reb Nosson, z”l, explains that the foundation of accepting the Torah and mitzvot is emunah. It follows that we must work to attain a new level of emunah during Shavuos.

Reb Nosson goes on to explain that the deepest and most essential joy that one can possibly experience is rooted in realizing that Hashem is the One who does everything. The material world appears to contradict vital emunah. Attaining and building emunah in a world where G-d’s presence is so hidden is like straining to make out a melody that is strung together by notes that are interrupted by pauses. The flow of the music isn’t constant–you have to follow it with your ear and imagination. Similarly, with emunah we work to pick out the melody of G-dliness from the wall of noise or silence of our worldy experience. This is one reason why singing and music naturally tend to engender feelings of emunah and dveikut, or attachment to G-d. This is the essence of receiving the Torah, this music of emunah.

Hashem, let me hear the music, the deep tapestry of what You do that inextricably woven into the fabric of creation. Help me perceive this and make every moment of my life a living song to You.

The Antidote to Stupidity
By Levi Avtzon

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped”
—Elbert Hubbard

In the holy city of Safed, next to the old cemetery, sits a humble structure, known as the “Arizal’s mikvah.” The small building houses a ritual bath which, according to tradition, was used by the master kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534–1572, known as the “Arizal”), who would immerse himself in its waters before praying and studying.

The son enters the water and screams, “Ay! This is cold.” The mikvah (ritual pool) is actually an underground stream; its waters are ice cold. But considering the mikvah’s illustrious history, many consider it a special privilege to brave the cold. In fact, tradition has it that anyone who dips in its waters will certainly repent before passing on.

So, the story is told of a father who takes his son before his bar mitzvah to dip in the frigid waters. The son enters the water and screams, “Ay! This is cold.”

He quickly immerses and jumps out, straight into the warm towel his father is holding in his extended hands. “Aaaah!” said the boy, “this feels good!”

Said the father to his about-to-become-a-man son: “May this be a lesson for the rest of your life. Whenever you do something, and the ‘ay’ comes before the ‘ah,’ you know that it is a good thing that you’ve done. When the ‘ah,’ however, comes before the ‘ay,’ then you know that you have done something wrong . . .”

I was reminded of this story when reading the section of the Torah that discusses the woman suspected of having been unfaithful to her husband—the sotah. The word the Torah chooses (Numbers 5:12) to describe her alleged disloyalty is tisteh, [a woman who has] “gone astray.”

Tisteh can also translate as “becomes foolish.” Hence the Talmudic axiom: “A person does not sin unless overcome by a spirit of folly.”

Sin is foolish. We all know it. No one ever feels good after a sin (psycho-maniacs aside), and no one feels bad after doing a mitzvah.

But we sin anyway. Then we feel guilty, then we sin again, then we go to the synagogue on Yom Kippur and promise to better ourselves. Then we sin again.

No, I am not writing a book titled 10 Ideas How to Never Sin Again, nor have I discovered the magic pill that kills the evil inclination within. And if anyone claims to have found the vaccine against temptation, lock him up in an asylum—before he proclaims himself a god and goes off to build a cult and exploit a bunch of misguided people.

But maybe, just maybe, we might refrain from sin that one timeUntil Moshiach comes, when evil will be eradicated from the world for good, we will continue to be tempted by sin. Hey, just another reason to ask G‑d to send Moshiach.

But maybe, just maybe, if we take the story of the mikvah to heart, and next time we are about to say “ah” before the “ay,” we think ahead—we might refrain from sin that one time.

And that is a very big deal.

Or, as our sages succinctly put it: “Who is a wise one? One who foresees the outcome [of his actions].”

What Is the Torah?

The Pentateuch (Five Books of Moses)
Moses wrote all the Five Books of the Torah; as dictated to him by G-d.

The Torah relates how G-d created the universe, how the human race came into being from Adam and Eve, how our Fathers — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — fared, and how the Jewish people became a nation, chosen by G-d to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” through receiving and observing the Torah.

The 613 Commandments
The Torah contains 613 commandments, of which 248 are positive (what to do) and 365 are negative (what not to do). The precepts and commandments cover every phase of a Jew’s life, both the duties to one’s fellow man and the way to worship G-d, in order to attain the highest moral standards.

Massorah-(Tradition)
In addition to the precepts, commandments and prohibitions written in the Torah, G-d taught Moses many more laws, and many explanations of the laws written in the Torah, which he was to memorize and orally convey to his successors, who in turn were to uphold this tradition from generation to generation. Many laws and customs have thus been practiced by us traditionally, as if they were actually written in the Torah. Click here for more information regarding the Oral Tradition.

The Prophets
The books of the Prophets include: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Tre-Assar (the 12 books of the Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

The Holy Writings
These include the books of Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra and Chronicles. All these books were written by one or another of our prophets by divine inspiration (“Ruach Hakodesh”).

The books of Samuel, Kings, Ezra and Chronicles are (artificially) subdivided into: Samuel I and Samuel II; Kings I and Kings II; Ezra and Nehemiah; Chronicles I and Chronicles II.

In all we had 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses whose prophecies were recorded for their everlasting importance. In addition to them there have been prophets in Israel in every generation, but because of the fact that their prophecies were relevant to their times alone, they were not recorded. Source: http://www.chabad.org/

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