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This Week's The Torah Portion: "Naso"


"Naso" is the longest Torah portion of the year. And perhaps it's no accident: for it invariably turns out to be the Torah portion read immediately after the holiday of Shavuot (celebrated last Sunday & Monday), which marked the very birthday of the Torah!

The highlight of Naso is the Priestly blessing, to be chanted twice daily - at sunrise and sunset - in the newly built Tabernacle Sanctuary.

The following is the translation I usually use for this famous blessing:

"The Lord bless you and protect you,
The Lord shine upon you and be gracious to you,
The Lord turn to you and bless you with Shalom".

Descendants of the tribe of Kohen still perform this ritual in the synagogue on holidays. And it's performed at the Western Wall of Jerusalem every morning. The blessing, which takes place at the conclusion of the service, calls upon every Kohen to ascend the Bimah, extend his hands, split his fingers in a special way, and bless the congregation. According to Jewish superstition, it's forbidden to peek at the outstretched arms of the Kohen. One famous "peeker", however, defied this superstition as a child. His name was Leonard Nemoy; the rest is Star Trek history!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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