Parashat Nasso // “Take a Census”

- ב ה -

Why can salvation happen only through love?

The duties of the righteous towards their community

“And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof, And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden” Numbers 4:31 – 32

  • The high priests are not meant to be exclusively dedicated to spiritual growth and sanctity. Extreme abstinence or asceticism can cause individuals to become distanced from their communities and indulge in God’s work out of selfish motivations. The mission of priests and pious people is to remain close to those around them, bestow blessings upon them, and stand by their side in times of collective and personal crises.

God bestows the Israelites with the priestly benediction

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them” Numbers 6:22 – 27

  • The priestly benediction is the most important blessing. Its utterance brings light from superior/spiritual worlds into our physical world. The task of the priests is to convey God’s blessing and establish peace and fraternity among all human beings. “The Lord make His face shine upon thee” (Numbers 6:2). When the priestly benediction is uttered, the Creator of the universe comes into direct contact with the congregation and the entire nation of Israel. God does not care only about the individuals, but about society as a whole – if a community is not cohesive, there is no hope for any of its members. 
  • The Talmudic sages added a phrase to the priestly blessing: “And [God] commanded us to bless Israel, His people, with love.” In other words, God asks the priests to convey His message of love to His people. This is one of the priests’ important duties. Only through love can we grow and bring the final redemption. Just as hatred brings about the destruction of Jerusalem, it follows that our salvation depends on love.

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “Take a Census”

  • There are two parallel worlds. The first world is that of the Tree of Knowledge, which is the place where good, evil, physicality, and materialism exist – and it comprises only 1% of our entire reality. The second world is that of the Tree of Life, which is the place of the divine and eternal – and it comprises the remaining 99% of reality.
  • A priest, sage, or pious individual may live in the world of the Tree of Life. Their obligation is to not only revel in divine service – but to also remain close to their community, constantly bestow upon them blessings, and stand by their side in times of personal or collective crises.
  • In the physical world – that of the Tree of Knowledge – we operate under the premise that we lack money and prestige. We feel an almost constant urge to fulfill our needs and our desires. Conversely, in the world of the Tree of Life, we can conduct ourselves with a perspective of perfection, endless blessings, and infinite bounty. 
  • We all choose where we march, in what direction, and through which gate we will enter. Both worlds coexist in parallel and simultaneously. At any given time, we may choose the tree from which to nourish ourselves. Since hatred is the cause of our destruction, love is our only salvation.
  • The priestly benediction is the most important blessing. Its utterance brings light from superior/spiritual worlds into our physical world. This blessing creates a direct encounter between the Creator and His believers. God loves His people – and wants them to spread this love onwards.

Awe is the experience of perceiving the presence of the Creator; also known as “fear of God”, or reverence.