We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs; we have no place to go. — Golda Meir
This week’s Torah reading introduces us to the laws of the Nazir (Nazirite). The Nazir is prohibited from drinking wine or consuming grape products, from cutting his hair and from become ritually impure from any contact with the dead. The underlying motivation of a Nazir is to achieve a greater level of holiness, of sanctity, of closeness to God.
There are several biblical personalities that were Nazirs or whom the Sages believe were Nazirs from hints in the text. One of the most famous ones was Samson. Two others were the prophet Samuel as well as King David’s rebellious son, Absalom.
The Meshech Chochma on Numbers 6:21 digs deeper into some aspects of the significance of being a Nazir, based on what we know of the biblical ones, specifically as it relates to the land of Israel.
Something to bear in mind is, that after the biblical period, the Sages, among numerous decrees they instituted, established that the land outside of Israel has the status of ritually impure land. That means that a Jew who was otherwise ritually pure, just by stepping foot outside the land of Israel became ritually contaminated. Any Jew coming to Israel from outside it had to go through a ritual purification process.
What is interesting is that even before this enactment, we see that the prophet Samuel never left the land of Israel. He was a mighty savior of the people, vanquishing the Philistines who encroached on Israel’s borders. The Meshech Chochma intimates that when the people asked Samuel to provide them with a king, they wanted a king who would venture and fight beyond their borders.
The Meshech Chochma goes on to say that a Nazir can only be in Israel, that the institution of being a Nazir doesn’t function outside of Israel and that if a person did take on a vow of a Nazir outside of Israel, even nowadays in our post-Temple era where the level of required ritual purity can’t be achieved, they are nonetheless forced to go to Israel.
There is a certain level of proximity to God, that can only be undertaken, achieved, and sustained in Israel.
May we all have the merit of being in Israel soon.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
To the SpaceX Falcon 9, Crew Dragon launch.