Bamidbar Six: The Nazirite

This chapter provides a series of rules and standards of behavior for a nazirite. A nazirite is a person (male or female) who has taken a vow to consecrate himself or herself to God. This vow comes with a number of requirements, including abstention from wine and grapes, from cutting his or her hair, and from interacting with the dead. Regarding the separation from the dead, the standards for a nazir are even greater than those for the kohanim. While the kohanim can still interact with the dead if they come from their immediate families, the nazir cannot. “All the days that he abstains for The Lord, he shall not come into contact with the dead. To his father, to his mother, to his brother, or to his sister, he shall not defile himself if they die, for the crown of his God is upon his head (Numbers 6:6-7).” I wonder why the standards are even stricter for the nazirite than they would be for the priests. The two things that come to mind are that, first of all, the term of the nazirite is finite, rather than lifelong, and second, the nazirite chooses his or her life, rather than being born into it. Therefore, more can be expected of them than of someone who has come to their station by circumstance. “This is the law of a nazirite who makes a vow: his offering to the Lord for his naziriteship is in addition to what is within his means. According to the vow that he vows, so shall he do, in addition to the law of his naziriteship (Numbers 6:21).”

The end of this chapter is the blessing that God tells the kohanim to give to the Israelites. It’s one that is repeated today on Shabbat and holidays, and happens to be one that I really love. In Israel, thousands of people come to the Kotel (Western Wall) to receive the priestly blessing on Passover. Enjoy the video of it below!

May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

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