The Thread that Binds - Faith
This week's parsha of Nasso is the longest parsha in the Torah. The parsha
deals with varied subject matter and on the surface seems to lack a unity
of narrative. All of the great commentators to the Torah have sought and
found certain common threads in the parsha that somehow bind it together.
One of those commonalities is the concept of faith and trust. The Levites
were to be the public servants of the people of Israel, the administrators
and workers in the Temple and the teachers of Israel. They were to be
supported by the Jewish people so as to free them from the harsh necessity
of making a living to support themselves and their families. The Levites,
therefore, had to trust that the Jewish people would attend to their needs.
On the other hand, the Jewish people had to trust that the Levites would
fulfill their public service tasks with efficiency and propriety. Mutual
trust is the basis for all government and organizations, whether they be
commercial, social or religious.
Corruption, venality, poor judgment, arrogance of power, all destroy the
thread of trust that is necessary for a harmonious society to function.
The parsha discusses the circumstances of disloyalty between spouses in a
marriage. Nowhere in life is absolute trust as necessary as it is in
marriage. The betrayal of infidelity destroys the bond of the marriage
relationship. It is therefore most fitting that the woman "the sotah"
described in the parsha recites the word "amen" twice in her oath of
professed innocence. The word "amen" is a word of affirmation, faith and
of trust. Moshe complains about the Jewish people that they are children
whom I cannot trust. The woman suspected of infidelity seeks restoration
of trust. The "amen" is therefore repeated twice as part of this trust-
building process. It is meant to emphasize her true sense of loyalty and
rectitude. Without this added emphasis and declaration, it is unlikely
that the thread of trust can be repaired in that family. Woe to the couple
that distrusts each other and woe to the person who allows one's self to
be involved in a compromising situation that will certainly
breed mistrust and suspicion.
Trusting one's self too much is a dangerous trait. The parsha discusses
the nazir the person who takes a vow of abstinence in order to attempt to
improve one's spiritual level. Ordinarily, Jewish tradition opposes the
taking of vows of abstinence and the Talmud records for us the strong
disapproval of the High Priest, Shimon Hatzadik towards the taking of the
vows of nezirut. Yet, Shimon Hatzadik agreed that in the face of
overwhelming temptation, when there is no certain trust left within the
person in one's ability to overcome that temptation, that vows of
nezirut are in order. We are warned never to trust ourselves fully. Self-
trust and confidence are necessary traits for successful living. But
complete and implicit trust in one's judgment, borders on arrogance. The
thread of self-trust is very delicate. We should not break it nor should
we feel that it is strong enough to carry us through all situations in
life. Nezirut reminds us of the caution necessary in dealing with our own
selves and our self-trust.
Rabbi Berel Wein
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Berel Wein and Torah.org