Illuminations #162, Sivan, 5778, Parshat Naso

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Illuminations #162, Sivan 5778, Parshat Naso

Torah Gems

In this week’s parasha we find the subject of Nazir discussed. A Nazir cannot drink wine or cut his hair. Rashi explains the laws concerning Nazir are written right after the laws of Sotah (wayward wife) to say whoever sees a Sotah in her state of disgrace should not allow himself wine by becoming a Nazir. The reason he offers is unless a person makes boundaries they are bound to fall prey to their temptations.

HaRav Nochum Mordechai from Novominsk offers a different explanation. The Baal Shem Tov would say, “One sees what one is.” Whatever Heaven shows a person is because Hashem wants the individual to work on the matter. The Mishnah in Negaim states, “All plagues a man may see (diagnose) except his own plagues.” With this explanation of the Baal Shem Tov we can understand the Mishnah in a different light. Many times a person cannot see his own shortcomings, only someone else’s. How then can a person improve himself? When a person sees a fault in another person, it is really a sign from Heaven that in some form he too has the same issue. Now we can understand the connection between someone seeing a Sotah and becoming a Nazir. When one sees a Sotah in a belittled state, Hashem is telling him he also must have an issue; although maybe not as severe, it must be dealt with. Therefore, the Torah juxtaposed the subjects sotah and nazir telling you that by becoming a Nazir and not allowing yourself certain pleasures you can get your problem under control.

Parsha Pearls

In this week’s Haftarah, we have the story of the birth of Samson. After it was revealed to Samson’s mother that she would have a child who would be a Nazir and save Israel, his father Manoach entreated Hashem to explain the ramifications of having a son who is a nazir. The word used for Manoach’s prayer is “vayetar.” Etar means a pitchfork which turns over the grain or threshing floor from one place to another. Just like a pitchfork turns everything over, so too can sincere prayer change midat hadin to Midat Harachamim. In Amos, the prophet says, “He recounts to a person what were his deeds.” R’ Chaim of Volozhin offers an explanation for this verse. Many people pray because that is what they are supposed to do. When someone is sick we say a few extra chapters of Tehillim. How many of us daven with sincere prayer? After 120 years his prayers will be looked at as what they could have accomplished. Did he pray with the proper sincerity showing that only Hashem could answer his prayers? We cannot imagine the power of what our prayers can accomplish. If we don’t give up and trust that only Hashem could answer our prayers, then B’Ezrat Hashem we will see a lot of Heavenly assistance.


Glimpses of Greatness

One afternoon, Rav Moshe Feinstein needed to go somewhere. His driver picked him up and drove away. About a minute after they left Rav Moshe gave a painful cry. The driver quickly stopped the car to determine the cause of Rav Moshe’s pain. One of his students had accidentally closed the door on his finger, however not to embarrass his student, he held his pain back until they were far enough away that the student would not hear his cry.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Why are we concerned about believing a kohen’s own words about his status? (I-EH1-418]

A. Shulchan Aruch (Eh 50-1) rules that in the present day we do not believe one who says that he is a kohen, and we do not raise his status to that of a kohen . Furthermore, we do not call him first to the Torah and he does not raise his hands in blessing. The Ramah writes there are those opinions who say that, in the present day, we believe him in order to be called first to the Torah as well as to raise his hands in blessing.

Aruch Hashulchan (Ad. Loc 15, R. Yechiel Michel Epstein , Z”L) gives the following reason for this: We rule that one witness is believed in the case of prohibitions, therefore one can raise the question why he should not be believed on the basis of his own words as in all cases of prohibitions from the Torah that a person is normally believed. Rather, in this case it is necessary because raising his status to the priesthood is also raising his Yichus [pedigree].

Shoel V’Nishal (1-34, Ramach, R, Moshe Kalphon HakohenZ”L) writes that this is true in a situation where it is possible to investigate [whether he is a Kohen or not. In that case] one must investigate, and [we rely on these leniencies] for the sake of peace. However, if there are people [available] that recognize and know the status of the individual, there is a reason to rely on the Ramah that there is some support available [supporting his claim that he is a Kohen]. In this [case even] the Maran (author of the Shulchan Aruch) agrees.