TORAH PORTION OF NASO Numbers 4:21–7:89
Moshe Kempinski ,
There are times when things seem so perfectly clear.
There are other times when nothing makes sense anymore.
The tragedies in Miron and in Givat Zeev in the midst of rejoicing and dancing gives us pause. The senseless murder of children and other innocents at the hands of rockets sent by an entity sworn to annihilate our people, shake our sense of comfort and security. Spurious lies and disconnected half-truths spread by “legitimate” news agencies in the world with no possibility of retort or defense leaves us frustrated and demoralized.
Yet perhaps we need to consider that all this is the confusion and haze that always precedes the next dramatic step in the walk into destiny.
We read in Exodus the following ;
“And Moshe went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. And the Glory of Hashem rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days, and He called to Moshe on the seventh day from within the cloud.”(Exodus 24:15-16)
After the dramatic and clear perception and experience of His glory at the revelation on Mount Sinai, Hashem returns into the covering of the cloud.
Why would that be so?
We read the following in the Torah portion of Nasso that may help us receive some understanding of that question:
“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: “May Hashem bless you and watch over you. May Hashem cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May Hashem raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.(Numbers 5:23-26)
During the recitation of the Priestly benediction both the Kohanim and the congregants cover their faces and upper torsos with a Prayer Shawl.
The classical explanation for this was that since the Divine Presence would rest “above and between the hands of the Kohanim.” looking at them might cause the eyes to become “dim”. (Talmud, Chagigah 16a.).
That spiritual experience may have been a real issue in the time of the Temple when Hashem’s Presence was so vivid and palpable, but according to most of the sages that is not the relevant factor in our times.
On the other hand that “Dimming of Vision” may still be a real and pressing issue even in our times.
To understand this we must re-examine the concept of one’s vision becoming “Dim”.
Sometimes our vision is so focused on what we physically see that we lose the ability to see beyond.
These Kohanim (Priests) were not the ones blessing us. If our sight was focused on them we might lose awareness of that important fact.
As Hashem continues to declare in the text the following;
They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them.” (Numbers 5:23-27).
The Kohanim were meant to be a vehicle, a message, a statement and nothing more. The mistake of assuming that the Kohanim were somehow the source of blessing is the ultimate dimming of our vision.
That is the reason that Moshe , even after the incredible revelation of Hashem’s Glory then needs to step into the ARAFEL. into the cloud , “and He called to Moshe on the seventh day from within the cloud.”(Exodus 24:16)
After the dramatic encounter with the vision of G-d, Moshe had to enter the clouds that covered that mount. For only within the delicately balance of “ Knowing and yet not Seeing” can Hashem be truly comprehended.
We are living in a world wherein we hear many espouse easy solutions and simplified relationships. While it is true that that G-d is a loving Father, but He is also the reigning King.
At Mount Sinai we read “And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar, and the smoking mountain, and the people saw and trembled; so they stood from afar.”(Exodus 20:15)
In the book of Deuteronomy we hear more regarding those fears
“Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; that Hashem our G-d may speak unto you; and we will hear it and do it.’ ” (Deuteronomy 5:21)
It is then that Hashem tells Moshe;
“And Hashem heard the voice of your words, when you spoke unto me; and Hashem said unto me: ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto you ; they have well said all that they have spoken. Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear Me, and keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”(ibid 24-25)
“Love of G-d “without “fear of G-d” quickly becomes” love of self”.
On the other hand, “fear of G-d” without “love of G-d” becomes simply “fear of punishment.”
Hashem is telling Moshe that a healthy relationship with the Divine involves a delicate balance of Awe and Love.
That delicate mixture is found in the ARAFEL , the cloud that surrounds great aspects of our lives
It is in those moments of “not knowing” that we tap into the greatest reservoirs of trust.
It is when trust becomes the anchor that we find the strength to move forward on that road to purpose.
When one is in the confusion of uncertainty one loses the ability to look around at the blessings. In the haziness o the cloud it is hard to discern how many steps forward we have taken. Yet it is because of that we need to look deeper and higher to rediscover our vision
After over a year of walking in the threat of pandemic we are walking today less burdened, though still wary of the future. After years of terrorism coming from the Gaza border, kidnappings, fire balloons and death tunnels, we have been able to partially destroy the mechanisms of terror.
It is only after entering and then coming out of the haze that we can rediscover the vision to truly see again.
LeRefuat Kol Hacholim. Lerefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved