Thursday, May 31, 2012

Parshat Naso, 5772/2012 thoughts

Re Naso, nothing new, but plenty of old--here are highlights from some posts of mine on the subject:

Parshat Naso: Sotah—the “trial by ordeal" of the wife suspected of adultery (Sunday, June 11, 2006, 2:42 AM)

"I read the law this morning, in Naso, and found this interesting tidbit: If the woman were found guilty, she would be held accountable, but if she were found innocent, there’s no mention of any punishment for her husband for having subjected her to a false accusation and public humiliation. And another thing: The woman is promised fertility if found innocent. Therefore, it would appear that it’s not enough for the suspected wife to survive the ordeal unscathed: If she doesn’t have a child within a reasonable amount of time thereafter, her husband still has grounds to suspect her. An innocent but infertile woman, or one with an infertile husband, could never clear her name."

Haftarat Naso: Manoach—a sexist without seichel (common sense) (Sunday, June 11, 2006, 3:19 AM)

". . . Manoach's wife has already told him that the child is to be raised as a Nazir. Why does he not trust her word?

Then Manoach offers a sacrifice, and the angel ascends in the flame. Manoach freaks out: “We saw Hashem! We’re gonna die!” His sensible wife responds, “If Hashem hadn’t wanted us to see this, He wouldn’t have let us!”

Personally, I’m not very impressed with Manoach."

Letting one's hair down, literally--biblical version (Wednesday, April 09, 2008)

"45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and the hair of his head shall go loose, . . . " (Vayikra, Parshat Tazria, Leviticus, chapter 13, verse 45).

Where have I heard something similar before? Oh yes, here:

18 And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and let the hair of the woman's head go loose, . . . "(B'midbar, Parshat Naso, Numbers, chapter 5, verse 18)

Calling all rabbis, rabbinical students, Bible scholars, biblical archeologists, anthropologists, etc.: What was the significance of loosened hair in the biblical era?"

Parshat Naso: Sotah--Another look (Wednesday, June 11, 2008)

"Debbie, from the synagogue that I often attend in Manhattan, has another way of interpreting Sotah: In her d'var Torah (discussion of Torah), she said that, however humiliating the Sotah ritual was, it did have the major advantage of depriving the husband of the right to take out his unprovable suspicions on his wife, forcing him to put the matter in G-d's (or the Cohen's/priest's) instead. There being nothing in the water that could have made the wife sick (unless she was "blessed" with multiple chemical sensitivities and could have had an allergy reaction to just about anything), the "potion" given to the women "worked" only by what we now call the placebo effect--that is, if the wife believed that it would work, it might have worked. So it was almost a given that the wife would be found innocent, and the husband deprived of the right to take revenge."

And you think *synagogue dues* are expensive?! (Monday, May 24, 2010)

"For me, one of the most flabbergasting aspects of the Torah is the number of animal sacrifices required for all manner of reasons, be they deliberate, accidental, and/or resulting from normal human activities. . . . It's not only the existence of the countless sacrifices themselves that I find flabbergasting, but the fact that I don't see anyone talking about the cost. I'm far from a scholar, so please excuse me for asking what may be a dumb question, but are there rabbinic discussions concerning the financial ramifications of the sacrificial system?"

Parshat Naso—a mixed bag (Thursday, June 02, 2011)

"The Census of the Men of the Tribe of Lévi

Let me get this straight—we really needed 8,580 men between the ages of 30 and 50 to transport the components of the Ohel Moed/Mishkan/Sanctuary-of-the-Wilderness?! (See chapter 4, verse 48 here.)"

Haftarat Naso is subversive (Friday, June 03, 2011, 1:42 PM)

"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."

 Monday, June 4, 2012 update:  " . . .  nothing new, but plenty of old . . . "?  On second thought, see my Parshat Naso, 5772/2012 second thoughts.


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