May 21, 2021 By Abigail Uhrman | Commentary | Naso
It is a beautiful moment in this week’s parashah: God asks Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons to bless B’nei Yisrael on God’s behalf. Not only is the sentiment and poetry of the priestly blessing stirring in and of itself, but given its use in contemporary religious life, it carries even further resonance. In Jewish households across the world, parents offer this blessing to their children as part of their Friday night ritual. In my own experience, I have vivid memories of my grandparents and parents blessing me and my sisters with these words, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do the same for my children each Shabbat. Those few precious moments—where my husband and I get to hold each of our kids, whisper these ancient verses, and kiss them “Shabbat shalom”—have become a sacred occasion in our home. I’ve repeated these phrases now over many weeks and years and, at times, with little thought to the meaning behind the words. A closer reading of the text, though, has affirmed for me some essential parenting lessons.Read More
Jun 5, 2020 By Ashira Konigsburg | Commentary | Naso
Naso opens up with a census of the Levites, who will be responsible for transporting parts of the Mishkan. Num. 4:3 specifies that those who will be engaged in this work are to be between the ages of 30 and 50 and fit for service when the Mishkan is operating.Read More
Jun 14, 2019 By Marjorie Lehman | Commentary | Naso
Parashat Naso begins with the appointment of the Levite families of Gershon and Merari to take care of the Mishkan, the Israelites’ portable sanctuary in the desert. While Aaron and his family were given the responsibility of overseeing the actual service of God in the Mishkan, the descendants of Gershon and Merari were defined as mere helpers, charged with the role of caring for the structure of the Mishkan, its cloths, its equipment, its posts and their sockets, its planks, pegs, and furnishings.Read More
May 25, 2018 By Joel Alter | Commentary | Naso
Sharp elbows at shul extend beyond the kiddush table line and back into the sanctuary. Prayer—or giving honor to God—can be a competitive business. There are lots of reasons why this is so, and some of them even have to do with loving God. But showing off how we love God can get us into trouble.Read More
Jun 2, 2017 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Naso
Modern Judaism has a problem with the priesthood. The notion of hereditary holiness—that one segment of the Jewish people is set apart from others, given ceremonial privileges, and invited to bless the people—conflicts with our egalitarian ethos. The strange rituals of the priests, especially when they are invited to raise their hands in blessing the people, feel magical and irrational. For these reasons, many non-Orthodox communities have diminished or even eliminated the priestly privileges such as reserving the first aliyot for kohanim and Levi’im.Read More
Jun 2, 2017 By Tim Daniel Bernard | Commentary | Naso
1 pair of pants, 1 shirt, 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of socks
Shampoo and hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, face whitening cream
Comb, nail clipper
100 U.S. dollars
130 Turkish liras
Smart phone and back-up cell phone
SIM cards for Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey
—contents of Iqbal’s backpack on arriving in Lesbos, Greece (emphasis added)
Jun 17, 2016 By Joel Alter | Commentary | Naso
In a plaintive and anxious song by Israeli singer Ehud Banai called “Aneh Li” (“Answer Me”), the challenge of communicating with God is rendered as an increasingly panicked monologue by a man waiting for a voice he’s sure is on the other end of the phone line:
You’re breaking up—there’s background noise—it’s like the ocean.
I guess there’s no reception here—you’ve disappeared.
I’m still waiting on the line for my turn.
I’m holding the connection, in case you return . . .
Are you still with me?