This week's parashah is Naso (4:21 - 7:89) meaning 'to lift up' and addresses more counting (now all men from 30 and up) in the Priestly tribes, diseases, adultery and theft are all dealt with to name a few. Also an oft repeated blessing, the Priestly Blessing is in Numbers 6:22-27. Speaking of repeated this Parashah is also read on all eight days of Chanukah (different sections with clear differentiations for times when Rosh Hodesh interrupts). So if you don't get to it this Shabbat you have other opportunities. The reason it is read is because this is the parashah that the Tabernacle is set up and consecrated. It should come as no surprise to any of you that this is the parashah read before Shavuot. But that should come as no surprise to you!
So it is perfect we read this section as we are about to reach our destination which for all practical purposes is the ultimate family reunion. It is where we started and where we are taking our new family and friends and personal history to congregate. We are preparing for the party as did the 'packers' of the Tabernacle with their assignments, bringing everything we need as did they to make this space and gathering perfect. The ritual objects for them each with their own assignments, much as we are all asked to bring the 'pot luck' for our gathering. At this reunion we will discuss all the family news, who did what with who, who is ailing and who has given birth and who has died. All the things that are mentioned in Naso. At the center of this family reunion is the coming together to honor the family elders and to get their blessing.
Everything we have been asking ourselves over the last 6 plus weeks come together as we close in on Sinai. In our lives we have sought reassurances from those we honor, their blessings, to guide us and to help us make the right decisions. We have dealt with sickness and accusations and we have numbered those we could count on and those we separated from or who separated from us. We come to this Shabbat, some of us filled with a week of sickness and sadness, sorrow and joy. We leave oddly enough Memorial Day behind in this week and start a new kind of memorial as we enter the next. This is the longest parashah of the year with 176 verses.
As you enter this Shabbat and think of the week behind you keep in your head these words from Numbers 6:22-27, please.
Adonai spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them.
Adonai bless you and protect you
Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you
Adonai bestow God's favor upon you and grant you peace.
With the hands held in the familiar three branched position so did the priests as was their task. As those whose blessings we seek and those elders or favorite cousins we want to approve of us we ask the same and give it in return.
Or as in the words of the prophets Roddenberry and Nimoy.
Life Long and Prosper.
A sweet Shabbat to all and to all a good night!