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Summary of Parshat Naso

by the editors    
of Torah from Dixie    

Parshat Naso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) continues where last week's portion left off, delineating the responsibilities and tasks of the three Levite families - Gershon and Merari this week, Kehat last week - and counting all of the Levites who were of age to serve in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). After Hashem commands Moses to purify the camp so that it will be a worthy home for the Divine presence, the Torah describes the process to be carried out with a Sotah, a wife who was warned by her husband not to seclude herself with another man and was subsequently found doing so, providing good reason to suspect her of adultery. She is taken to the Kohen (priest) in the Temple and, if she doesn't admit her guilt, given sacred bitter waters to drink which will lead to one of two results: The waters will either establish her innocence, removing any doubt from her husband's mind by blessing her with children, or the waters will prove her guilt through a miraculous, grotesque death. The Torah then describes the laws of the Nazir, a person who has voluntarily accepted upon himself to adopt a special state of holiness, usually for thirty days, by abstaining from eating or drinking any grape products, from taking a haircut, and from becoming contaminated through contact with a corpse. After relating the blessings by which the Kohanim (priests) will bless the people, the Torah portion concludes with a lengthy listing of the offerings brought by each of the twelve tribal leaders during the dedication of the Mishkan for regular use. Each prince makes a communal gift to help transport the Mishkan, as well as donating gifts of gold, silver, animal, and meal offerings.

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