Naso 5775 – The Great Gain From a Small Dose of Self-Discipline

In this week’s parshah, the Torah teaches us three mitzvos in succession. The first is the mitzvah of Nazir, a person who accepted upon oneself to abstain from wine and any grape product. Second, the Torah commands the Cohanim to bestow the priestly blessing upon Bnei Yisroel. Third, the Torah relates to us how the Nesiim, princes, donated wagons to the Cohanim to facilitate in the transportation of the beams of the Mishkan during travel. At first glance it would seem that there is no connection between the three; what common theme connects them? Perhaps the following can be suggested.

The Torah teaches us that the Nazir is figuratively crowned with the crown of Hashem. What great deed did he do in order to merit this great honor? All he did was accept upon himself to refrain from wine, grapes and all products produced from it for a total of thirty days. Is this a big deal?

The Nazir felt himself being pulled down by worldly pleasures and to protect himself he vowed to abstain from wine. What he accepted may not be so hard to fulfill, nonetheless the Torah is teaching us that when a person acts with even a little amount of Prishus, it is a big deal. He deserves to be crowned, and not just with any crown, but with the crown of Hashem.

But there is more to be learned from the Nazir. One could think that after the thirty days pass and he is allowed to drink wine he returns to his previous level. The Torah teaches otherwise. It is written, “And afterwards the Nazir may drink wine”. Why does the Torah refer to him as a Nazir even after his vow is complete? Explains the Alshich, because the level of kedusha gained by this act of prishus is not lost automatically, by returning to a regular life. This will depend on how he will live afterwards.

This leads us to the priestly blessing where the Cohanim proclaim, “May Hashem bless you and safeguard you.”  The Netziv explains that the first part of the blessing is that everyone should merit more good in their lives. The second part is that the blessing bestowed should not turn out to be detrimental. With the Nazir, the lesson learned from the act of prishus can be retained if he safeguards himself, and is careful that the worldly pleasures bestowed on him should not pull him down. Similarly, this second blessing is that a person should be safeguarded from the pitfall of being too involved with worldly pleasures.

The third level is when a person takes the blessing bestowed on him and uses it for the sake of Hashem. This is learned from the Nesiim who took from their possessions and donated it to the Mishkan.

May we all merit having blessing from Hashem and not only be safeguarded from those pitfalls, but to make the conscious decision to using the blessing for the sake of Hashem.