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Parashat Nasso

June 10, 2022
12 Sivan 5782
Numbers 4:21 - 7:89


Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (if one does not stop for Shabbat), we are assailed with unfiltered information coming our way. Things that need our attention surround us. Our response is to multi-task, but we are told that there is no such thing. We actually task sequentially, giving little the full attention it deserves. We know there is much to be done, but do not even know how to begin or where. We live in a world where our ability to make a difference sometimes seems insurmountable. We tend to look at that person over there who seems to know, but cannot imagine how to do it ourselves.

This week we are presented with the laws of the nazarite, an individual who has, by a vow, taken on a special sacred status. For the period of the vow, the nazarite may not have contact with any dead body, or consume any grape products (be they intoxicants or not), or cut his/her hair.

It is because of our limited attention span, that I look to the nazarite and his/her vows as a source of inspiration.  The nazarite is required to focus and to change behavioral patterns for a time, as long as the vow is in effect. It could be a lifetime, but need not be.

Maimonides was distrustful of the nazarite, seeing one who was a zealot, an extremist, one who was outside the norm. But I invite us to see the nazarite as an exemplar of focus; with that focus, one is given the tools to do what needs to be done and not be distracted. The nazarite makes a choice, and so must we – to be our best selves to do what needs doing.

A call to the modern nazarite


Putting the cacophony aside
Not being distracted
Grounding oneself, grounding oneself with purpose
Work to be done
Holiness made present
Obligations to be met
All the while bringing our best selves forward
Recognizing our unique gifts
Lifting our voices
Doing what needs doing as only each of us can do it
Such is the call of the modern nazarite

A vow of action
A vow of dedication
A vow that simply does not allow us to stand idly by
So much Holy work to be done
Let us take the time to do it…to do it now

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi LInda Shriner-Cahn

Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782