Torah Fax   
Friday - Shabbat June 5 - 6, 2009

Torah Reading: Naso (Numbers  4:21 - 7:89)
Candle Lighting Time 8:06 PM
Shabbat ends 9:15 PM
Pirkei Avot Chapter 1

Accentuate The Negative?

It is a well-known teaching of the Kaballah that the Holydays we celebrate are not merely meant to celebrate historical events - they are moments in which we relive those experiences on an even higher level. In other words, when we celebrated Shavuot last week, it was not only to celebrate our receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai over 3,300 years ago, we actually "rereceived" the Torah from G‑d on an even greater and more intense level. In this vein, the Shabbat that follows Shavuot each year, which is this Shabbat, Parshat Naso, is a most unique one: it is the first Shabbat to follow the momentous event of the Giving of the Torah. 

One would imagine that the very first Torah reading that would follow such a pivotal event would be one that relates to the theme of the Giving of the Torah. Furthermore one would expect the name of that Parshah to reflect its preeminent nature.


Indeed, the name of this week's Parshah, Naso, reflects the effect the Giving of the Torah had on every Jew and on the world in general. Naso literally means to count but it could also be translated to read: raise up. Naso teaches us that the objective and inevitable effect of Torah is to elevate every individual who studies Torah.


The particular context in which the expression Naso is used in our Parshah is with regard to Moses counting the children of Gershon, one of the three families of the Tribe of Levi. At the end of last week's Parsah, Moses counted the members of the family of Kehot. Later in this week's Parshah, the family of Merari is counted.


But why was the counting of the three families of the Tribe of Levi divided between two Parshahs? Why didn't last week's Parshah continue with the counting of the other two families of Levi?


In light of the earlier explanation, that this week's Torah portion follows on the heels of Shavuot with its theme of "elevating," we can understand that there is a unique message with regard to the family of Gershon in particular, which warrants that our Parshah should begin with the counting of that family specifically.


Kehot is etymologically related to a word that means "to gather." One of the fundamental functions of the Torah is to bring about peace and unity between people. Clearly, this is one of the "uplifting" qualities of Torah. There can be no more refreshing feeling than experiencing unity and the feeling of togetherness. Therefore the Torah told us in last week's Parshah to single out Kehot and count them. Kehot teaches the fundamental - and elevating - Torah concept of unity which can be brought about through the fulfillment of the Mitzvahs.


But in this week's Parshah the Torah tells us an entirely new concept. It tells us of Gershon, which is connected with “legaresh, chase away." Not only is the positive force of unity, which is engendered by the Torah, uplifting, but even the more "banal" function of Torah - its ability to define, separate and distance evil - is a fundamental and uplifting aspect of the Torah. Generally, one would not consider the process of fighting evil to be a holy function. Necessary though it may be - it is not a very exhilarating task.


But the Torah begins our Parshah with Gershon to tell us that the process of driving away evil is just as glorious as any other part of Torah, Now that the Torah was given, even the "do nots," the negative commandments, can be exciting and uplifting.


Now, with the advent of the revelation of Sinai, every action we do, along with every action we refrain from doing, can be holy. When a Jew desists from doing something the Torah deems wrong or inappropriate,  even though he has only refrained from an act and not positively done anything – that makes him holy and accomplished. He has done something in the spirit of Gershon; he has removed something negative.


Indeed, Kaballah teaches that whenever we perform a Mitzvah, spiritual energy is generated. The only difference between the energy created by a positive Mitzvah or a negative one is that the energy from a positive commandment can be internalized in the soul of the one who fulfills the command. By contrast, the energy created by the fulfilling of a negative command, since it is fulfilled by passivity, is even more sublime and transcendent.


Thus, our Parshah underscores that after the Sinai experience, even the "Gershon Mode of Judaism," even the approach that wants to negate evil, can be as uplifting an experience as the "Kehot - unifying" elements of positive Mitzvah involvement.


And though we said that the energy generated by the negative commands may be too sublime for us to internalize - that problem is only temporary. When Moshiach comes, even the most elusive spiritual levels will be internalized and appreciated by us all. By observing the commandments meticulously now, we prepare ourselves and the world for that great time.

Moshiach Matters 

The Munkatcher Rebbe, the author of Minchas Elazar, went to meet the sephardic sage Rabbi Shmuel Alpandri, known as the Saba Kadisha, the “holy grandfather” with the intent of bringing about the revelation of Moshiach, When he finally met him, he recited the Shehecheyanu blessing. though this blessing is said only n very rare occasions of unusual joy, the Rebbe explained that he saw the sephardic sage had within him the soul of Moshaich.

Moshiach - It’s a Jewish issue.
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