TEXTURES IN TIME – NASO, LIFT UP

NASO COUNTS TIFERET IN HOD

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Adapted from. Meta. PARSHYOT. 5755, by Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank z”l, and Living Torah by R Aryeh Kaplan z”l

SYNOPSIS

This Torah portion is concerned with the procedures and ceremonies that took place in the 40-year “Jewish camp out” in the wilderness.

The Torah portion, Naso, comprises 8632 Hebrew letters, 2264 Hebrew words, 176 verses, and 311 lines in a Torah scroll ( Wikipedia on Naso). It is the largest of the 54 chapters of Torah. 

Levi clans and their distinct duties

Naso begins with a description of the duties of the assorted Levi clans who took care of the Mishkan. The clan of Kehot carried the sanctuary instruments including the most sacred objects like the ark and Menorah. These were carried on the shoulders of four people. According to midrash, the ark “carried its carriers “. This makes sense since some estimate the weight of the Golden ark in tons rather than pounds.   These instruments were especially charged with holiness, Understandably, a great deal of delicacy was needed in handling them properly. It was a high-risk task in that improper handling could result in fatalities. In other words, you could get electrocuted if you so much as touch one of these ritual items. 

The clan of Gershon carried the cloth and leather hangings; the clan of Merari carried the wooden poles with the aid of carts and bulls. Somehow 200 tons of equipment were carried by four carts, with the assistance of carts and bulls.

Somehow 200 tons of equipment were carried by four coaches and eight bulls.

Either there were more ongoing miracles, or the carts and bulls resembled the contemporary massive cargo trucks. 

Torah Laws and Invocation

Laws that concern the camp’s hygiene and the people’s spirit are given. This includes instructions concerning the special vows of the Nazeer, who renounces all grape products and dedicates themselves to service for a time.

 The priestly blessing appears in the Torah portion.

Ceremonial Gifts

Naso ends with a long list of the presentations of the princes of each tribe to the sanctuary during its 12 ceremonial installation days. Their gifts included carts and balls. (From Sefer Haparshiyot by Ki Tov.)

( above adapted from Meta Parshyot Naso 5755 R David Wolfe Blanke)

THE PRIESTLY BLESSING (BIRKAT HACOHENIM) IS REVEALED

 The Eternal Spirit will bless you and protect you.

The Eternal Spirit’s countenance will shine upon you and favor you.

May The Eternal Spirit show to you their true face and grant you peace.

יְבָֽרֶכְךָ֥ יקוק וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ

יָאֵ֨ר יקוק| פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ

יִשָּׂ֨א  יקוק | פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם

(Bamidbar 6:23-27)

BIRKAT HACOHENIM

Numbers that resonate through the are pointed out out in Siddur Ba’al haRokeah

The first line has three words and is made up of 15 letters

The second line is made up of five words and 20 Letters

The third line is made up of seven words and 25 letters

The number of words in each line progresses through a series of three prime numbers; 3,5,7. The total number of words in Birkat haKohanim is fifteen. This relates to the number of steps climbed to ascend to Temple mount. In Gematria, fifteen is Yah (יק) as in HallelluYah. It is a Name of God that Yoseph  Gikatilla associates with S’firah Hokhmah in his masterpiece, Gates of Light. The number fifteen twinkles distinctly in tradition. For example, the fifteenth day of any Hebrew month is the full moon,  the Pesah Seder is a 15-step ritual, and “Dayenu”, a favorite seder song has fifteen lines.  It is like a hologram twinkling fifteen within the seder.

SIXTY WARRIORS

The number of total letters is 60.   After casketing many use the phrase from Song of Songs,

הִנֵּה, מִטָּתוֹ שֶׁלִּשְׁלֹמֹה–שִׁשִּׁים גִּבֹּרִים, סָבִיב לָהּ מִגִּבֹּרֵי, יִשְׂרָאֵל
כֻּלָּם אֲחֻזֵי חֶרֶב, מְלֻמְּדֵי מִלְחָמָה; אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ עַל-יְרֵכוֹ, מִפַּחַד בַּלֵּילוֹת

Here is Solomon’s couch — sixty warriors surround her (each) from the warriors of Yisrael. All hold a sword, and are knowledgeable in warfare, each with their sword upon their thigh, (to offer protection from) night terror.

Shir haShirim 3:7-8

I learned that the 60 letters of the Birkat HaKohanim are the 60 warriors in the Song of Songs 3:7.

Birkat Hakohenim is a potent verse that is useful for protection. Its impact was particularly resonant for bedside chanting.

Archeological Insights

Unknown to many is an archaeological discovery made in 1979 at Ketef Hinnom, just southwest of the old city wall of Jerusalem.  A team led by Gabriel Barkay found two miniature silver scrolls (or amulets) rolled up inside a burial complex that had been used by the Turkish army to store rifles during the Ottoman Empire.  

 Etched in ancient Hebrew upon two silver scrolls was the inscription of the priestly blessing found in Bamidbar 6:24-26. These scrolls had remained rolled up for three years before they even attempted to unroll them.  They were cracked and corroded.

It is the oldest archeological reference to YHVH found.  These silver scrolls date back to 7th century BCE; furthermore, the Hebrew writing style is distinct to 7th c. BCE.  This dating means that these scrolls are 500 years older than the Dead Sea scrolls, and the oldest extra-biblical verses from the First Temple period (or when Solomon’s temple still stood on the Jerusalem Mountain).

 Scholars say this archaeological discovery was highly significant because it proved that the Pentateuch, or some parts of it, were written before the Babylonian exile–not after, as some had previously claimed. Previously, some had argued that the early parts of the bible were merely a fictional invention by some new rulers who took control of Judea in the late 4th c. BCE and wanted to give them a place in history and therefore, a claim to the land of Palestine. This theory has now been debunked. For more on this – click here.

PRIESTLY BLESSING FOR PROTECTION

Sefer Maavar Yabbok

This week I had the privilege of praying with a dying woman. I sat at the with her daughter. We chanted the 112 verses from Sefer Maavar Yabbok to assist the final transition.  “Maavar Yabbok” references Yaakov, our ancestors’, crossing over the Yabbok Wadi as he was preparing to meet with his brother Esau. There Yaakov wrestled with an angel. He was wounded. Upon daybreak, Yaakov was victorious. The angel gave him a new name, Yisrael. Not only does it mark the significance of the victory, but it also became the tribal name for his descendants to this day.  Death, too, is a transformation and the title, Maavar Yabbok, hints at this.

112 VERSES

The gematria for Yabbok (יבק) as in Maavar Yabbok (מעבר יבק) (10 = י, 2 =ב , 100 = ק) 10+2+100=is 112. It is is the summation of the gematria of three Divine Names on the center axis of the Tree of Life. Ehyeh (Keter) 21, YHVH (Tiferet) 26, and Adonai (Sh’khinah/Malkhut) 65. (See the Kabbalah Connectivity sheet below for more on this.) 21+26+65 = 112.  Therefore, the 112 verses are used open the channel connecting heaven and Earth.

 The 112 verses model movement through the center line of the Tree of Life – Keter (Crown), Tiferet (Heart Center) to Sh’khinah (Malkhut). It cultivates ease, protection, and blessing for a safe and unencumbered death.  

The priestly blessing found in this week’s Torah portion was included in these verses.

Several ancient amulets with this invocation engraved upon them have been found. It was used to bring protection as mentioned above.

The Hebrew term for the Priestly Blessing, administered by the descendants of Aaron, is Birkat Kohanim, also known as Nesi’at Kapayim, the “lifting of the hands,”. This points to the priests’ uplifted hands, which are a conduit for the Divine blessings. Performed with a quorum of ten, the Priestly Blessing is one of the most spiritually uplifting moments in Jewish life, as the entire congregation is embraced in a “divine hug.”

NASO CORRESPONDS TO TIFERET OF HOD, BALANCE/HARMONY IN HUMILITY/GRATITUDE  

This Torah portion is concerned with discernment and boundaries. This makes sense because Hod’s qualities involve inner refinement and discernment. Hod is internally directed and seeks to be transparent.

Hod focuses on Inner Refinement, Netzah on Physical Results

Netzah, on the contrary, is unconcerned with the inner subtleties and more concerned with results in the outside world. Under G’vurah’s influence (physically on the Etz Hayyim), Hodwants to be clear and shine with the truth. So clear that the self glows with the truth. From Hod’s perspective, this glow can do more good than a lot of external action. One glance at the face of someone glowing with light can do more than a year’s study of magnificent practices, which might eventually lead to an inner glowing. This is where Glory (Hod) is better than Victory (Netzah). Victory can be a hollow experience unless it is internalized, integrated, and allowed to nurture the self. Glory is the experience of internalized Victory. The feeling of triumph is sweeter than an unacknowledged victory, leaving the thirst for success sadly unquenched in the space of success.

Hod is the way of the priestess and prophetess. It is fitting that the priestly blessing land in this Torah portion – Tiferet of Hod – the heart of Hod. Also, earlier this week, the festival of Shavuot was celebrated. Tiferet of Hod radiates harmony within the glorious sea of Torah.

The Divine quality of Tiferet in Hod; Balance in Humility is an appropriate quality for protecting and carrying the Mishkon and the ritual items used with in it. It is the dwelling place of Sh’khinah in the Wilderness.  

(adapted from Meta Parshyot Naso 5755 R David Wolfe Blanke)

Holistic Jew

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