Tag Archives: Samson

Naso

Nassoart by Laya Crust

Torah reading- Numbers ch 4:21 – ch 7

Haftarah reading- Judges 13: 2- 25

We are treated to a range of ideas this week. We learn the ritual a woman accused of adultery by her jealous husband has to undergo. We learn the laws of being a Nazir, and in the haftarah we read the story of a pragmatic woman speaking with an angel in a field. The woman and her husband find out that they will have a child who is to be raised as a Nazir, and then the angel leaves in a flame to heaven. That’s quite a tete a tete to have in a field!

Nestled among the stories is a beautiful blessing. Gd commands Aaron and his sons to bless the children of Israel with these words:

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord shine His face upon you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord turn His face toward you and may He grant you peace.

Each short sentence includes two blessings. In Hebrew the first verse is only 3 words. The verses expand to 5 and then 7 words- suggesting that Gd’s blessings over us also expand. We recite this blessing in our prayers. On holidays the Kohanim bless the congregation with these words. Many parents use this to bless their children every Friday night.

In 1979 archeologists discovered two silver scrolls in Jerusalem,at Ketef Hinnom. They were from the 6th or 7th C BCE and contained portions of the priestly blessing. The tiny silver scrolls, which are over 2,600 years old, were so delicate it took three years to unroll them.

Interestingly the prayer is said in the singular- whether a parent is blessing one child or a kohen is blessing an entire congregation. That is because the Jews are one people. To receive the blessing we have to behave as a unified people, hopefully striving to make the world a better place.

Enjoy your blessings, Laya

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Naso

NassoJudges: 13:2 – 25

Samson- circa 12th C. BCE

Samson was an enigmatic personality. He was the 12th of 13 Judges living sometime in the 12th Century BCE. It was a time of great conflict and decline for the Israelites, a period that pre-dates the Kings who would be chosen to lead Israel.  When reading his story it’s important to remember that the term “Judge” denotes a leader, rather than an adjudicator.

Samson was a different from the other judges.  He was designated as a Nazir before he was born. His parents, Manoah and his wife, were farmers. One day  Manoah’s wife was alone in the fields.  An angel of God approached her and told her she would have a son. The angel instructed her to refrain from drinking wine and eating tamei (religiously unclean) food. These rules were to be followed by the baby who was to be born. In addition the child’s hair was never to be cut. These rules, the rules of the Nazir, are part of the parsha Naso- and that is feature that relates the Haftarah to the Torah portion.

When Samson was born the text says, “…and the spirit of the Lord began to move him… ”   The word used for “to move him” comes from the root word for “bell” or “ringing” suggesting the rapid, impetuous nature of Samson.

The story of Samson is a puzzling one in many ways. It describes a man who is like a super hero. He is fearless, extraordinarily strong, and impetuous. Why, one wonders, is he given the title of Judge and Leader?

Let’s go to the beginning of the story. It is introduced with the sentence, “And the children of Israel continued to do evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Pelishtim for 40 years.” It was a period of immorality and belligerence and b’nei Yisrael came under the rule of the antagonistic Pelishtim (Philistines).

For the Israelites to fight effectively against them they had to do it surreptitiously. Samson became an unrecognized undercover activist and rebel. Samson was able to “punish” the Philistine tyrants. Having seemingly deserted his own people and marrying Philistine women he was able to infiltrate their community, destroy property, kill fighters, and deflect all attention away from the Jews. In fact, he was wily enough to have blame deflected onto other Pelishtim. His strength, impetuousness and solitariness allowed him to became the leader who fought, unrecognized, for his people.

File:Lovis Corinth - Der geblendete Simson - Google Art Project.jpg

This a larger than life story that ends with the humiliation and then honouring of a tragic hero. The painting above is “The Blinded Samson”, 1921, by Lovis Corinth . The painting shows  Samson’s pain and degradation when he has ultimately been betrayed by Delilah.

This is another fantastic narrative in our writings. Go to the Book of Judges, chapters 13- 16, and read great adventure!

Please share this post with your friends on Facebook, and share your comments with us all. Have a Shabbat Shalom.

Professor Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr Zvi Lederman found this tiny coin, less than an inch in diameter, near the Sorek River by Tel Beit Shemesh. This coin, from about the 11th C. BCE  shows a man fighting a lion.  Some feel this may represent Samson and his fight with the lion.   To read about this interesting discovery go to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2181404/Israeli-scholars-claim-uncovered-archaeological-evidence-Samson.html

 

 

 

 

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