The Torah portion, or parasha, this week is Nasso and is found in Numbers 4:21-7:89. The passage contains several events. First, Moses finishes the census of the Levite families and everyone is given instructions on their responsibilities to temple service. The next section talks about how people who have committed crimes, are suspected of adultery, or have made a vow of piety to God should act. The passage makes the comment, “If someone has wronged another and thereby has wronged God . . . “, connecting wrongs to others as also hurting God. In the next section, the priests are given the well-known words to bless the people “May the Lord bless you and keep watch over you. May the Lord make his presence to shine upon you. May the Lord direct his providence toward you and give you peace”. The rationale given for the priestly blessing is that the blessing will link God with the people so that they will be able to receive God’s blessing. Finally, the tabernacle is dedicated and each day, one of the twelve tribes brings their offerings and contributes to the service.
We learn a number of things in this passage. First, everyone is counted and given a responsibility. Everyone has an obligation to carry out those responsibilities to contribute to the community. Second, keeping promises is important and breaking those promises can result in hurting others and God. If those promises are broken, people are obligated to do what they need to in order to restore trust and make things right. Third, in the dedication of the tabernacle, everyone had a part. By assigning each tribe their own special day to offer sacrifices and contribute to the service, each tribe was made to feel special and equal in worth to the other. From these three points, we are again reminded of the importance and worth of each individual and of the obligations we have as members of a community to support one another. We all make mistakes but we can learn to forgive each other, build trust, and do what is in our power to make things right. Finally, we learn that when we hurt others, we wrong God, and when we bless others, it allows God to bless them as well.