Free Protection (Naso)
You must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. -Andrew Jackson
The Torah reading of Naso is a diverse and content-rich portion. It includes a description of the work the Levites performed transporting the Tabernacle components during their desert journey. It has instructions regarding the treatment of anyone who is ritually impure, their need to exit the camp and purify themselves. We then have the unusual description of the Sotah ceremony, the ritual for a wife suspected and accused of adultery by her husband, followed by the narrative of the laws of the Nazirites who abstain from wine, from cutting their hair and from the defilement of the dead.
The second half of the portion of Naso gives a detailed and extensive description of the sacrifices and gifts the princes of the tribes of Israel bring for the dedication ceremony of the Tabernacle. It is notable for the twelve detailed repetitions of what is ostensibly the same offering over and over and over again.
However, nestled in between these two sections of Naso, we have the famed priestly blessing, just a few verses long. It states as follows:
“God will bless you and protect you. God will light His countenance upon you and grace you. God will turn His countenance towards you and give you peace.”
The Chidushei HaRim on Numbers 6:24 wonders as to the need to mention protection together with blessing in the first verse. By way of explanation, he contrasts the blessing of God to the blessing of a king of flesh and blood. When a human king bestows upon a person some blessing or some gift, once that person has departed from the king’s presence there is little to then stop robbers from harming him, stealing the gifts and nullifying whatever blessing the king gave.
However, with God’s blessings, the protection of that blessing is part and parcel of what God is bestowing. The protection of the blessing is included in the blessing itself.
The Chidushei HaRim continues that even if a mortal king were to assign guards to escort and protect the recipient of his gift, that is not how mortal blessings are given and even such protection would be limited. On the other hand, God’s protection is intrinsic to the blessing and inseparable from God’s will.
May we always be recipients of gifts of the divine variety that will remain unharmed and untouched by any negative intentions.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach,
To the Bat-Mitzvah of our niece, Illyana Spitz. Mazal Tov!