Week of 24 May 2018 – Parshat Naso

WEEK OF 24 MAY 2018

Summary: The Book of Numbers, fourth of the Five Books of Moses, spans the 40 years in which Bnei Yisrael wandered in the wilderness.

Naso, the 2nd parasha in the Book, is the longest single parasha in the Torah, covering Chapters 4:21-7:89. It includes; priestly duties of carrying the Mishkan and a census (8,580), camp purification ritual, restitution for wrongs committed, treatment of a wife accused of unfaithfulness (Sotah), the vows of a Nazir, the Priestly Blessing, and identical gifts brought by the Princes of the 12 Tribes during the consecration of the Mishkan.

Comment: In this week’s Parasha, Naso, the Torah lists the 3 verses recited by Kohanim to bless the nation. There are 15 words in total, with the last word being Shalom (peace)!

The Ben Ish Hai (Baghdad 1835-1909) points out there are 14 digits in a human hand – each finger having 3 digits and the thumb having 2, adding up to 14 – leaving the word Shalom unrepresented. To remedy this, we have the custom of using a cup of wine to sanctify special occasions such as Shabbat & Yom Tob (Festivals), Wedding Ceremonies, Brit Milah (Circumcision) and Birkat haMazon (Grace after Meals).

He also mentions it was the custom in his time to eat only two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, except on Shabbat when 3 meals were consumed. Thus, during the six days of the week a person could enjoy 12 meals and on Shabbat 3 more, making a total of 15. In this case, Seudah Shilishi became the 15th meal, completing the corresponding idea of Shalom. For both reasons above, we offer people the greeting ‘Shabbat Shalom’!

This week we especially encourage our readers who are Kohanim to attend synagogue. If you come to Rambam Sephardi you’ll also have the pleasure of blessing our community, as we do Birkat Kohanim every Shabbat.

Please join us on Shabbat when guest speaker Anthony Orkin from Campaign Against Antisemitism will address our community at the end of services.

REMINDER: You will by now have seen the pan-European survey request being circulated in the Jewish press. It’s being carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and Maccabi GB. If you haven’t already taken time to fill in your response, we urge you to do so. Click the link here to participate.