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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Stop the Honking!

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Why is G-d showing me this picture?
The Baal Shem Tov once said: If a person, going about their business, encounters something ugly like corruption or violence, he or she should stop and think. Why is G-d showing me this picture?
There must be a reason. The scene before us is a mirror, which reflects an aspect of our own image. G-d knows that we are incapable of seeing ugliness in ourselves, so He shows it to us in someone else. Upon witnessing a hideous act we should turn inward, says the Besht, and see if we are guilty of even a fraction of that which we are seeing.
Parshas Naso is the longest Parsha in the Torah. It has 176 verses, the same as the number of verses in the longest chapter in Tehilim, Psalm 119, the same as the number of pages in Bava Basra, the largest tractate of the Talmud.
There are but two major Mitzvos in this Parsha: Sotah, the story of the promiscuous women, and Nazir, the man who restricts himself from worldly pleasures. The Talmud questions the juxtaposition of these two mitzvos and comments, “If you are unfortunate enough to see an act of promiscuity, go home and figure out what you can do to make your own life more holy.”
These days, throughout the world we are witnessing insidious, treacherous acts of terrorism and violence across the world. From Sederot in Israel, suicide bombings in Iraq to the unthinkable tragedy at a university in Virginia we are being shown pictures of total negation of the value of human life.
Judaism has the utmost respect for life. Shabbos, Kashrus, Mitzvos are all put aside if someone appears to not be breathing well, or has some sort of an infection. Every life is valuable and irreplaceable. What we read in the papers or watch on the news is a banner of desecration for the sanctity of life.
How should we react to seeing the desecration of human life? If when one sees a Sotah one becomes a Nazir, what should one become when seeing a terrorist?
The answer is a kinder and gentler people. If you are driving on the highway and you hear about a terrorist bomb, the Jewish reaction should be to let another car sneak in front of us. If we hear of a shooting, the Jewish reaction should be to pick up the phone and say something nice about another person. Visit someone who is sick, help someone who is poor, value a life, be more Jewish!
The Nazir described in our Parsha attains the same level of holiness as the High Priest. It is the person who is able to see impurity and then look inward to purify himself, of whom we can say, “the crown of holiness is on his head.”

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