Friday, June 03, 2011

Haftarat Naso is subversive

Start with Parshat Naso.

Then consider the Sotah ritual described therein, in which a man could have his wife tried for adultery by public ordeal on mere suspicion (a right later restricted by our rabbis, in their wisdom).

Now consider Manoach. His barren wife tells him that a man who appeared to be an angel came to her and told her that she was going to have a child. Instead of automatically suspecting her of infidelity, he asks G-d to have the angel appear to him, too.

The obvious reason for pairing this haftarah with this Torah reading is that the Torah reading discusses the laws governing a Nazir, and this haftarah announces the birth of Shimshon/Samson, who will be a Nazir for life. But perhaps this haftarah is also an indirect response of our ancient sages to the injustice of the Sotah ritual--at least try to ascertain the truth before making assumptions.


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