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   by Jacob Solomon

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON PARASHAT NASO - 5766


1. According to Rashi, how many camps were there in the desert, and which people were excluded from which camps?

2. How, according to the Rambam (Hil. Teshuva 1:1) is the commandment of repentance learnt from this Parasha?

3. Why, according to the Talmud, is the 'trial by miraculous Divine intervention' of the Sotah no longer in practice?

4. Why, according to the S'forno, does a Sotah found 'not guilty' still have to 'bear her iniquity' (5:31)?

5. Why, following Rashi, are the sections of Sotah and Nazir placed together in the Torah?

6. In what way is a Nazir reckoned to be a sinner (6:11), according to Rashi?

7. What, according to (a) the Ramban and (b) the Ohr Hachayim, is the meaning of the Priestly Blessing: 'He will be gracious to you?' (6:25)

8. How did the Princes selected (7:2) merit their position?

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON PARASHAT NASO

1. Based on the Talmud's (Pesachim 67a) interpretation of 5:2 quoted by Rashi, there were three camps - the 'camp' of the precincts of the Tabernacle, the surrounding Camp of the Levites, and the encircling Camp of the Israelites. The metzora was excluded from all three camps, the zav from the Levite and Tabernacle areas, and the person defiled by contact from a corpse from the Tabernacle area only.

2. The Rambam (Hil. Teshuva 1:1) derives the general commandment of repentance from 5:6-7 - where a thief is required to confess his sin in making restitution to his victim. This general obligation is stated in the laws of theft to teach something else as well - namely that even where the Torah mandates a specific offering, there cannot be atonement without the oral confession constituting an essential part of repentance.

3. The Talmud (Sotah 47a) states that the ordeal of the Sotah lost its effect, and was discontinued by the Sanhedrin during the Second Temple period, because the nation was no longer worthy (Sotah 47a) of having the required degree of G-d's Intense Presence amongst them for the ordeal of Sotah to work.

4. According to the S'forno, a Sotah found 'not guilty' still 'bears her iniquity' (5:31) because she should have conducted herself in such a manner that legitimate suspicion would not have pointed in her direction in the first place.

5. The sections of Sotah and Nazir placed together in the Torah to teach the following: 'He that sees a Sotah in her disgrace must separate himself (as a Nazir) from wine' (Talmud: Sotah 2a), - as wine brings a person to immoral conduct. The Nazirite's abstinence from wine signals to the Nazirite that adopting a spiritual life can help to close the door to the enticement that doomed the Sotah.

6. A Nazir reckoned to be a sinner (6:11), according to Rashi in two ways. Firstly, in the context of the text (6:11), he should have been more careful to avoid even accidental contact with a corpse. Secondly, his having 'sinned against the soul' (ibid) hints that the Torah frowns on people taking on stringencies not actually ordered by the Torah - in this case, having deprived himself of the pleasure of drinking wine which is permitted by Torah law.

7. The blessing of G-d's being 'gracious to you?' (6:25) means, according to the Ramban, that G-d should look to the Israelites with favor. The Ohr Hachayim understands it to mean that other nations should look to the Israelites with favorů people may have wonderful attributes, but they will not relate well to those outside their circles if they are misevaluated by other groups - on whom their own material welfare depends.

8. The Princes selected merited their position as they were the' leaders of the tribes (7:2)'. Rashi understands that phrase to mean that they had always been the leaders of the tribes - even during their darkest moments in Egypt, who willingly suffered beatings at the hands of the Egyptians rather than persecute their own people underneath them, as the Egyptians tried to force them. Thus these people had been loyal to their subjects in their darkest hours.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION ON PARASHAT NASO

What is special about theft in that a person may put the matter right by returning the object, paying a fine, and bringing a sacrifice even though the theft and the false oath appear to have been committed on purpose? (see 5:6-7) In virtually all other transgressions, a korban is brought only after sinning inadvertently. Intentional breaking of negative mitzvot is not put right by korbannot, but by genuine Teshuva.

For a suggested approach, see my 5761 item for Parashat Bamidbar on the Shema Yisrael website.

Other Parashiot from previous years may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/solomon/index.htm

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Also by Jacob Solomon:
Between the Fish and the Soup

From the Prophets on the Haftara

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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