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Nazir: The Rebalancing Act

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Who exactly is the option of Nezirut for? The Nazir takes it upon themselves to refrain from all grape products and hair cutting, and to avoid ritual impurity imparted by the dead (Num. 6:3-6). At a glance, it would seem that anyone would be invited to take this on if they so choose.

However, a closer look reveals an additional interesting requirement, one that not everyone would be able to fulfill. The Nazir is on the hook for a tremendous number of Korbanot – one of every single type, as a matter of fact. Chatat, Olah, Todah, and Mincha, not to mention the possibility of additional surprise plus bird korbanot and Asham offerings if they should become accidentally and unavoidably tamei (Num. 6:14-17).

The korban requirements for the Nazir are extensive. Not everyone is in a position to take Nezirut on for themselves, because not everyone has enough resources to bring the korbanot.

This makes sense – the Torah provides the option of Nezirut for those who wish to constrict themselves. The option of constriction is one given for those who have more than enough. There is no expectation, or possibility, for someone who is not well-off to accept these constrictions upon themselves, nor should there be. The option of Nezirut is one way for someone who feels that they are at a time in their lives when their blessings are overwhelming, and this leads them to counterbalance their excess with constriction.

There is a lot going on in the world these days, and much of it is stressful. And yet, every now and then, hopefully, we get a chance to reflect on how lucky we truly are. We have so many blessings. We may find ourselves to be blessed with abundance when others have so little.

To live below our means is a difficult task, but the Torah consistently provides ways for us to counterbalance – to put spirituality before our material concerns. And while becoming a Nazir is rare these days, we may start to consider for ourselves: where has our material abundance interfered with our spirituality? It is worth our time to take stock of our spirituality – how has our tefillah been? Has our phone interfered with our kavanah? How has our connection with Hashem’s natural world been? More or less powerful than our connection with television? Have we had as much time for acts of kindness as we have had for parties? 

If we discover that we are blessed with time, entertainment, and connection in abundance, but a lack of God, perhaps it is then time to counterbalance.

Rest assured, this balancing act is blessed. Right after the section on the Nazir, the parsha continues with the Birkat Kohanim (Num. 6:23-26). This blessing is the result of the connection that is opened up between the Bnei Yisrael and Hashem when we prioritize spirituality over materiality. Now that all is in balance, Moshe tells Aaron, “it is time to bless the people!” We recite Birkat Kohanim daily in our prayers – let us understand the lesson of this parsha, and make sure that we can justify the abundance that we are blessed with.

This essay is part of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s weekly parsha wisdom. Each week, graduates and students of YCT share their thoughts on the parsha, refracted through the lens of their rabbinates and the people they are serving, with all of us.

About the Author
Eli Weinbach is an experiential educator for the Jewish people, and strives to manifest his love of the environment and Jewish tradition in a deeply connected world. He worked for Hazon for three years, including as JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming, and Environmental Education) Fellow before transitioning to graduate-level rabbinical and environmental studies. He enjoys pickling and cooking with fake-meat substitutes. He is currently studying at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.
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