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Torah Portion Naso:  Num 4:21 – 7:89

Naso is Hebrew for “raise”, as in “raise the head”, which is an idiomatic expression for “take a count”.

Summary:  The Torah portion begins with YHVH’s instruction to Moses to continue the count of the families within the Tribe of Levi, specifically the men from the ages of 30-50.  The Gershonites are responsible for carrying the soft materials (e.g. the curtains around the courtyard, the cloths and skins of the Tabernacle, etc.); the Merarites carry the hard materials (e.g., the planks, bars, sockets, and pillars; the Kohathites are responsible for the holy utensils within the tabernacle (e.g., the Ark of the Covenant, etc.).  Those to be placed outside the camp because of ritual impurity include lepers, those with a flow of body fluids, and those who have come in contact with the dead.  Those who commit sins against YHVH are to confess and pay restitution plus 20%.  A man who suspects his wife of infidelity and there are no witnesses must bring his case to the priest who performs various rituals, including having her drink a potion that will determine if she indeed has been unfaithful.  Men and women can become Nazirites – people dedicated to YHVH who abstain from anything made of grapes, who do not cut their hair, and who avoid contact with the dead.  YHVH instructs Moses to tell Aaron to recite the Priestly Blessing over the congregation (“May the Lord bless you and protect you, etc.).  When Moses completed setting up the Tabernacle, 12 princes (one from each tribe) present their offerings: 6 covered wagons and 12 oxen.  The Torah specifies the gifts by tribe, all of which are identical, presented on 12 consecutive days.  The Torah portion ends with Moses hearing The Voice coming from above the Cherubim on the top of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.