Parshas Naso

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

ועשה הכהן אחד לחטאת…מאשר חטא על הנפש (פרק ו פסוק יא)

When a person decides to be a נזיר they are not allowed to drink wine, cut their hair, or become impure by coming into contact with a dead person. If there is an uncontrollable situation in which they become impure then they must bring a sin-offering because of their sin. Rashi quotes an opinion that the sin that the sacrifice is atoning for is “ציער עצמו מן היין”- he pained himself [by restraining] from wine. The Kli Yakar asks, if that is the sin, then why only bring an offering after becoming impure? Every נזיר commits this crime? He answers that the sin is not merely that the נזיר didn’t drink wine, rather that he pained himself in the process. Once he was serving Hashem in this way of abstinence he should have done it happily. Had he been happy and satisfied with his way of life as a נזיר, he certainly would have been more careful and not allowed himself to become impure. Therefore, only after becoming impure do we see that he wasn’t observing his נזירות with total happiness and excitement and his paining himself is considered sinful. Only now he must bring a sin offering for not serving Hashem with joy.

פר אחד בן בקר איל אחד כבש אחד בן שנתו לעולה (פרק ז פסוק כא)

The Torah describes at length how the נשיא of every שבט brought קרבנות as a way of initiating the משכן. They each brought one bull, one ram, and one lamb. Rashi explains that the bull corresponds to Avraham who slaughtered a calf in serving the angels who came to his tent and the ram represents Yitzchak who had a ram brought in his place by the עקידה. Yaakov is signified by the lamb because he separated lambs when serving Lavan and tending to his flocks. The bull and ram are understandable, because Avraham’s serving guests with a calf was the prime example of his מדת החסד which was his overriding מדה, and Yitzchak’s willingness to sacrifice himself was a monumental moment in our history. The lamb, however, is strange- why is Yaakov signified by his service to Lavan as a shepherd? R’ Elya Boruch Finkel says that we see from here that Yaakov attained his ultimate level as a צדיק by being honest with Lavan’s money. Although he had opportunities to justify crooked behavior, he did not veer from the path of absolute truth. This מדה brought him to his perfection, as is implied by the רמב”ם who only refers to Yaakov as Yaakov the צדיק in reference to his serving Lavan honestly. This is why the נשיאים brought lambs to signify Yaakov at his highest level.

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