ROHAN'S DVAR TORAH

My Torah portion is called NASO. It comes from the 4th book of the Torah called BAMIDBAR.

Naso is said to be one of the most interesting parsha's in the Torah and it

is incidentally one of the longest too because it involves so many portions.

At the beginning of Naso the parsha describes a census that was conducted.

The purpose of a census in those days was to see how many people there were

in order to ascertain how many soldiers they could call on in times of

battle; and how many Kohanim and Levi'im they needed in order to maintain

the Tabernacle. It then goes on to talk about making vows and the lifestyle

of the Nazir along with a very old blessing. It is the lifestyle of the

Nazir and the ancient blessing that interested me the most and I'm going to

devote my Dvar Torah to these.

A Nazir was a person who abandoned the pleasures of life to an existence of

abstinence and self restraint. For example the Nazarites vowed not to drink

or eat anything made from grape juice because a product like wine is part of

the sensual pleasure of life. They couldn't cut their hair or even comb

their hair. They were not allowed to go near or touch the body of a dead

person, even if it was the body of their own parent. Both men and women

could become a Nazarite and the vows could last a month, a year or a

lifetime.

The average person today would find it very difficult to take any such vows

for a long period of time but perhaps there are times when a person needs to

take a vow, make a commitment for a certain period of time and to follow it

through.

The kind of vows that we could make today wouldn't have to be for a

lifetime, for a month or even a day. It could be a vow made on a much

smaller scale. For the past year I have dedicated 2 hours a week to

preparing for my Barmitzvah. For many sporting events I have committed to

training and practicing for a particular sports event. And likewise for my

grade 7 exams, I undertook to stick to my exam timetable to prepare for my

exams. The small undertakings can be viewed as vows of commitment similar

to those of the Nazir.

Sometimes the vow or commitment we make, might not be related to an up and

coming event but might relate to our emotional state of mind, a character

trait or even our religious commitments. We could at times behave like a

Nazarite by taking a vow to dedicate an hour a day to prayer or by going to

shul once a week. We could also vow to make an effort not to speak badly

about others. And perhaps something more relevant to my friends here today,

taking a vow to keep your bedrooms tidy.

The point is, to make a commitment or vow, like the Nazir did, and then to

follow it through by trying to keep it.

The last intriguing part of my parsha was the very famous three-line

blessing that was given by the Kohanim to the Jewish people. It is the

prayer that some parents say to their children on a Friday night and also

the same prayer that I fondly remember Mr Gotkin saying to every child at

Highlands Primary who celebrated a Bar or Batmitzvah. I love tradition and

nostalgia so feel very privileged and special that this very old prayer,

whose words have not changed in more than 2700 years forms part of my

portion. The prayer goes, "MAY G-D BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU. MAY G-D CAUSE

HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS TO YOU; MAY G-D TURN HIS FACE

TOWARD YOU AND GRANT YOU PEACE"

So, to conclude, I feel like the journey of my becoming a Barmitzvah today

has, in a sense, been a yearlong vow of commitment, like a Nazarite vow.

I started the year off somewhat reluctantly because I had to make sacrifices

with regular day to day activities, extra mural activities and free time

however, I stuck to it.

Toward the end of my journey of commitment I felt enthusiastic and proud.

I feel enriched.

I have successfully fulfilled my vow of commitment.

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