Where You Fit – Parshat Naso 5783

I have a deep desire, like so many human beings, to belong, both in a communal sense and a personal relationship sense. If I feel a shift in a relationship that I wasn’t expecting or can’t explain, I start to panic a little bit. Last winter, a dear friend and I experienced such a shift, when texts went from multiple times a day, to once a day, to maybe once a week. As much as I know that relationships change, I struggled with a silence that was painful to my heart. In these moments of uncertainty in relationships, how do we find our footing and step forward, not knowing where we actually stand?

Knowing where you fit in, whether person-to-person or in society at large, is so human an experience that the Torah itself deals with that feeling in this week’s Torah portion. As we read Parshat Naso this week, we read about the Israelite society trying to move forward after leaving Egypt and about the establishment of a successful community. The narrative picks up with a second counting of the people; laws about how we are to treat one another and the property that we own; the blessing of the priests to the people; and the laws of the Nazir, detailing how we might dedicate ourselves directly to God.

Naso has the distinction of being the longest Torah portion in the entire Torah. It doesn’t include the most number of commandments, but it goes into quite some detail with the ways in which community should be built. The first half of the portion deals with circumstances when one’s place in the community is in question because of their own behavior, and the second half deals with the offerings brought by each tribe as holy space is dedicated.

Why do these things go together? Why does it take so many words to explain these concepts? Perhaps it’s because establishing protocols, and specifically establishing how to build holy relationships, is very detailed work. There are so many complexities when it comes to community and the individual’s place within it, especially today when we’ve got technology that makes it both easier to connect, and at the same time more difficult to really understand one another. These nuances might come across more easily in face-to-face interactions, but it takes many more words to try to express this in writing.

Parshat Naso reminds us that establishing holy community requires that we examine our communication and that we see one another, not just through siloed words or deeds, but through interaction. That’s how we truly find each other. That’s how we lift one another up and create a fundamentally whole society.

– Rabbi Eve Posen

Source: Where You Fit – Parshat Naso 5783