Monday, August 31, 2015

479 - Naso

Among the mitzvos unique to the nazir, the Torah commands him to refrain from defiling himself by coming into contact with the deceased even when they are his closest relatives. The Seforno (Bamidbar 6:6) comments that this commandment parallels the mitzvah given to the Kohein Gadol. Due to the Kohein Gadol's holy vocation he must refrain from defiling himself by coming into contact with a dead person.

Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash Bamidbar 6:6) comments that, in effect, the Torah is giving every Jew the opportunity to achieve the holiness of the Kohein Gadol, albeit for a limited amount of time. The commandment to refrain from becoming tamai is not a mere prohibition; it is a manifestation of a bodily sanctification which the Torah grants a person when he accepts upon himself the mitzvah of nezirus. Levels of purity generally reserved solely for the Kohein Gadol become the hallmark of any Jew who is inspired to accept the title of a nazir. 

The Seforno continues, "In a similar vein Chazal said, 'Is it because there are not enough pallbearers in Tiveria that I sent you away from Netziven?'" The Seforno is making a reference to a story related in the Yerushalmi (Pesachim 3:7): Reb Avohu sent his son, Reb Chanina, from his home town Netziven to learn Torah as a disciple of Rebbi Yochanon in Tiveria. Sometime later, Reb Avohu was informed that his son was busying himself with burying the dead at the expense of his learning. Reb Avohu sent him a message, "Is it because there are not enough pallbearers in Tiveria that I sent you away from Netziven?"

The Seforno seems to equate one dedicated to learning Torah to a nazir. A Jew entirely devoted to Torah study is involved in a most lofty endeavor and he must not defile himself by tending to the dead. [Although halacha mandates that one is to interrupt his learning in order to escort a dead person, Reb Avohu was telling his son he should not busy himself with this lofty mitzvah because learning Torah is an even holier pursuit.]

The Seforno's message is clear. When one dedicates himself to a holy endeavor, he must take care not to desecrate his holiness by busying himself with tasks that lead to his "defilement." If the Kohein Gadol, Nazir and Yeshiva Bachur are cautioned not to defile themselves even when it involves a mitzvah, how much more so must they take care not to interrupt from their holy endeavors for frivolities. We should act no differently. When we dedicate a portion of our time to avodas Hashem, whether it be for Torah or tefillah, we must ensure that we are not distracted into defiling the holy opportunity. Take the initiative of the nazir and turn off your cell phone, so you can dedicate and thereby consecrate, your special time with Hashem.

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