Gathering Sources: Naso

Some thoughts and resources for exploring the Torah portion, Naso — sometimes spelled Nasso — Numbers 4:21-7:89. This is part of a series of weekly “gathering sources” posts, collecting previous material on the weekly Torah portion, most originally part of a 2010 series called “Opening the Book”:

A Path to Follow: Cherubim

Something to Notice: Priestly Blessing and Peace

Great Source(s): Bob Dylan and Mystery Midrash

Language and Translation: the offense

See also: Naso: Prayer Links on their own gifts

God’s Shadow: Naso Prayer Links

For those attempting to follow Gathering Sources weekly postings, note that this one is appearing out of order, after schedule got off-track with Shavuot. Apologies. Nearly caught up.

God’s Shadow (Naso Prayer Link)

“The sacred is not to be found in the appearance of the act of spirituality but in the spirit we bring to the act,” argues Elliott Kleinman (see Naso Prayer Links). His plea for bringing individual “offerings” to traditional rites, Torah study and acts of kindness in the world — rather than seeking new forms of spirituality — seems an important one. Sometimes, however, the appearance of an act of worship does say a great deal about “the spirit we bring” to it.

Variations in the Priestly Blessing [birkat kohanim] — as presented in prayerbooks across the Jewish spectrum — indicate a real struggle in Jews’ understanding of who brings what to our prayer services. If you’re already familiar with the basic history of this blessing and how contemporary prayerbooks present it, you might prefer to cut to the chase: “the spirit we bring” or jump to a teaching from Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and the Baal Shem Tov.
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Naso: Prayer Links

Toward the close of parashat Naso, twelve princes bring identical gifts as a dedication offering for the tabernacle (Bamidbar/Numbers 7:10 – 88). Twelve times, the same five verses, with minor variations of the “mail-merge” sort at the open and close, appear:

The one who presented his offering on the {INSERT: ORDINAL} day was {INSERT: NAME} son of {INSERT: FATHER} of the tribe of {INSERT: TRIBE}. His offering: one silver bowl weighing 130 shekels, and one silver basin of 70 shekels by the sanctuary weight, both filled with choice flour with oil mixed in, for a meal offering; one gold ladle of 10 shekels, filled with incense; one bull of the herd, one ram, and one lamb in its first year, for a burnt offering; one goat for a sin offering; and for his sacrifice of well-being: two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, and five yearling lambs. That was the offering of {INSERT: NAME} son of {INSERT: FATHER}. Continue Reading

Naso: A Path to Follow

This portion closes (Bamidbar/Numbers 7:89) with a note about God speaking to Moses from between the Cherubim on the cover of the Ark.

There are cherubim set up to block the entrance to Eden at Breishit/Genesis 3:24. We first learn of the cherubim on the Ark cover in the Exodus chapter 25. The Ark and its cover are mentioned again in First Kings (cf chapter 6), 1 Chronicles 13, 2 Chronicles (cf. chapter 5) and in Psalms 80:2.
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