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Table Talk: Nasso

Impressions: “The Cohen shall have the woman stand before God and unbraid the woman’s head.” (Numbers 5:18) The Cohen unbraids the woman’s hair in order to disgrace her in public so that she will repent before God’s Name would be erased in the water she was to drink. The Torah wanted people to see the disgrace that follows from adulterous behavior as a warning to the entire community. Yet, “Whoever see the Sotah in her disgrace must become a Nazirite.” (Sotah 2a) On the one hand, the Torah wants people to see the consequences of adulterous behavior, but on the other hand, the scene can cause spiritual damage and the person who witnesses the scene should become a Nazirite. The positive impression – the disgraceful consequences for one who commits adultery – lasts only a moment. The negative impression lasts longer. The person must take positive action to undo what he has witnessed. Why does the negative impression have a longer lasting effect? Has that been your experience with positive and negative impressions?



Personalizing Mitzvot:

All the princes of the twelve tribes brought the same set of offerings, but each had a different intention, making each offering unique. Are we supposed to personalize our observance of Mitzvot?


Blessing of the Cohanim: Qualifications to Lead in Prayer

“The law is that a person who is leading the prayer should not respond “Amen” to the blessings of the Cohanim, lest he become confused and lose his place. If he is able to respond Amen without confusion, he should answer “Amen” for there is nothing more precious before God than “Amen” answered by Israel.” (Devarim Rabbah 7:1, Berachot 34a): Consider this law in the context of an interesting story in the Talmud (Ta’anit 25b): Rabbi Eliezer led 24 prayers for rain and was not answered. Rabbi Akiva led with: “Our Father, Our King, we have sinned before You! Our Father, Our King, Have compassion and mercy on us! Our Father, Our King, do it for Your Name’s sake!” and the rain began to fall. The rabbis were wondering about Rabbi Eliezer’s prayers until a Heavenly Voice declared: “It was not because Rabbi Akiva is greater than Rabbi Eliezer, but because the former is willing to overlook when he is insulted and Rabbi Eliezer is not.” God is concerned with the feelings of the righteous, and does not want them to be insulted when their prayers are not answered. (Ta’anit 24b – Rav Pappa: Bava Bathra 75b: “Called by the name of God) Can you apply the law of one who can respond Amen and the one who may not, to the story of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiva?

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