Dedicated Leilui Nishmat Yitzchak Ben Bahia, Billy Mizrahi A’h by his Family
Parashat Nasso This week’s Parashat Nasso happens to be the longest parasha in the Torah, with 176 pesukim. Similarly, the Bavli tractate Baba Batra has 176 pages, and the 119th perek of Tehilim has 176 pesukim as well. The gematria for 176 is leolam—forever. This is a sign that teaches us that the Torah is forever! Sota Sota is the service the kohen performed when a married woman went into seclusion with another man after she’d been warned not to. She would be brought to the kohen, who would write the name of Hashem on a parchment which he then dipped into water. The woman would drink that water. If the woman was guilty of having relations with that man, she died an excruciating death on the spot. However, if she did not commit adultery, then she would be blessed with a son that same year. We see from this, that Hashem is even willing to erase His Holy Name for the sake of shalom bayit. The question is raised: Why did she get a beracha if she went into seclusion with another man after being warned not to, even if she didn’t actually have relations? The answer is that even though she disobeyed her husband and went into seclusion with another man, she was able to conquer her yetzer hara and stop herself from having relations! Don’t Just Blame Her “Everyone’s holy things shall belong to him; whatever a man gives to the kohen shall be his (5:10).” This passuk is speaking about the gifts we must give to the kohen. Then in passuk 12, the Torah continues, “Speak to B’nei Yisrael and say to them, ‘Any man whose wife shall go astray and commit treachery against him…’” This passuk deals with the laws of Sota, which, as we discussed, involve a married woman who went into seclusion with another man. Rashi comments on the juxtaposition of these two topics by stating that if a man is so mean-spirited that he tries to avoid giving gifts to the kohen, ultimately he will bring his wife to the kohen on suspicion of being with another man, so that the kohen can perform the Sota service. This is similar to the man who doesn’t give the proper maaser tithe to tzedaka. In the end, that money will just be lost to something else, like theft or, lo alenu, medical expenses. We read, “Ish ish ki tisteh ishto umaala bo maal — Any man whose wife shall go astray and commit treachery against him.” Why does the Torah repeat the word ish, twice? We know that the Torah doesn’t waste a single letter, let alone an extra word! Rabbi Frand explains that this is because there may be a reason that the woman went into seclusion with another man. Maybe her husband harassed her to the point where he caused her great pain through verbal abuse. There’s no question that what she did was wrong, but what caused her to do what she did? Don’t Be Stupid! Rashi then comments on “ki tisteh ishto — if his wife will go astray.” The word tisteh is related to the word shtut, or stupidity. Rashi says, “Adulterers do not commit adultery until a spirit of foolishness enters them.” Just look at what is going on in today’s society, where so-called intelligent people — politicians, famous newscasters, and top show-business personalities — are literally throwing their careers and their reputations away for a fling that leads them to do some very stupid things. It’s not only limited to famous people; we see it with all types of people from every different background. They become temporarily stupid and are irrationally willing to destroy their entire life for a fleeting pleasure. Is it really worth it? Warren Buffett said, “It takes sixty years to build a good reputation, and just one minute to destroy it.” There’s a man I know who had a family, a good business, and beautiful children. He made a stupid move which ultimately cost him his marriage, his children, his house, and his business. Was it all worth it? That’s why Rashi says infidelity stems from pure stupidity. On the other hand, there’s a famous story of a man in our community who, when he was a young man in the army, was put in a very tempting situation with a beautiful woman. He responded by immediately running for his life like Yosef Hatzaddik. This man ultimately became a pillar of our community. He left a legacy through his children and grandchildren who are all going in the way of the Torah, many of whom have become Rabbis or are married to prominent Rabbis in our community! Nazir This week’s haftarah is about Shimshon, who was a Nazir. A Nazir is someone who commits himself to serve Hashem, someone who abstains from things like drinking alcohol and cutting his hair. This haftarah is read because right after discussing the Sota, this week’s parasha explains the laws of the Nazir. The Nazir must bring sacrifices after his period of abstinence from wine has been completed. The question is asked: Why does the Nazir bring a sin offering after a period of sanctity and devotion? According to Ramban, this is because it would have been better for him to continue with his abstinence from worldly pleasures and extend his vow to be a Nazir indefinitely. Therefore, the sin-offering atones for his decision to return to worldly pleasures instead. Run the Other Way The Rabbis derive from the Sota and the Nazir that “One who sees a Sota in her state of degradation should prohibit wine to himself by taking a Nazirite vow,” as is indicated in Sota (2a). The reason for this is that the woman succumbed to her sensual passions and let her heart overpower her mind. Her experience was proof that we as people are easy prey to temptation, so when the yetzer hara gets hold of us, even adultery can look like an acceptable option. The Torah is saying to us clearly, that if we see something that’s improper, it will most definitely affect us. We should take the disturbing experience as a sign to do something that will take us in the extreme opposite direction, so that we don’t dare drift anywhere near that thing that we have witnessed. We are all exposed to the Internet these days, and it has taken hold of so many, causing them at times to lose their families and sometimes even their lives. We must know as Orthodox Jews that the only thing that we should attach ourselves to is our Torah — as we just celebrated the giving of the Torah from Hashem on Har Sinai on the special holiday of Shavuot! Hardships can come in many different forms but Hashem, in His kindness, brings them in ways that enable us to improve and draw closer to Him. This is yet another aspect of Hashem’s chesed. May Hashem open our eyes to see and appreciate all His kindness and know that everything that Hashem does is only good! Self-Sacrifice Just as a Nazir makes personal sacrifices in order to better serve Hashem, so too do people make self-sacrifices every day. Hashem sometimes rewards people for their sacrifices, and sometimes, it is the very hardship itself that brings a salvation. There is a story in Living Emunah 3 that Rabbi Ashear told over from Rabbi Elimelech Biderman. There once was a father whose kids were not yet married. He was struggling with debt because his business was failing, and he needed some money to pay off his debt and start saving for weddings Be’ezrat Hashem. Occasionally, he purchased a lottery ticket, and one Thursday afternoon, he was informed that he was a winner and had won millions of shekels!! The family was elated! They spent Shabbat singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to Hashem, and the father felt like a huge load was lifted off his shoulders. But on Sunday, he received a phone call from the lottery officials. They had made a mistake, and someone else had the winning ticket. The children feared their father would sink into a pit of depression, but he remained perfectly calm, as if nothing had happened. When they saw his lack of reaction, they got even more worried. “How could you be so calm?” the son asked. “We thought we had all this money, you finally felt some financial relief, and now we find out it was only false hope!” “Listen very carefully,” the father said. “Chazal teach us that when a decree is issued against a person, condemning him to illness or death, chas veshalom, Hashem will sometimes take money or material possessions as a kapara. And if a person does not have money to be taken in lieu of his physical well-being, Hashem gives him atonement in a different way—by making him anticipate receiving money, or making it appear he has money—and then takes that away. The person will achieve his atonement without actually losing anything. This is how kind Hashem is. We need to praise and thank Hashem for His compassion. I didn’t lose anything, and I am healthy and well.” The man could have easily gone to the lottery officials, yelled, and complained until he got the money. After all, it was their mistake. But he decided to have emunah that Hashem is taking care of him, that all is for the best, and he sacrificed the money for the sake of serving Hashem, as we learned from the sacrifices of the Nazir. His children all got married quickly and easily, and B’H he is doing well. May we all know what’s due to the kohen or, in our days, the poor person, and may we not hold back from giving what is due to him. Otherwise, one way or another, Hashem will take that money from us for something that we’d rather not spend it on. May we learn to have proper middot, so that we do not instill fear into our household and cause our wives or our children to stray and ultimately go against us. May we all have the strength to find Hashem in every situation we’re put into because the very problems we encounter may become our salvation as in the above story! Amen! Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey Discussion Points:
Are we careful enough to ensure that our spouse has no reason to doubt our loyalty and dedication to them?
Do we look at our challenges as opportunities to grow?
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