A Nazirite is, therefore, separated from worldly activities to focus on serving God alone. One of the most famous Nazarites in Scripture and described in today’s Haftarah (Prophetic portion) is the man with superhuman strength: Shimshon (Samson).
The angel of the Lord instructed Samson’s mother even before his birth to raise him as a Nazirite:
“Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:4–5)
This demonstrates the fact that God has a plan, a purpose and a destiny for a person even while still in the womb.
God also confirmed this when He said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Sadly, Samson did not act with the humility and consecration required of his calling as a Nazirite.
He indulged his fleshly appetites and married a Philistine woman against his parent’s wishes, an act of rebellion that led to his downfall.
There is perhaps a curious connection between the law of the Nazirite and the law of the unfaithful wife, which are both discussed in this Parasha.
The laws of Sotah begin with a Hebrew word ma’al, meaning trespass or embezzlement. This emphasizes the sacredness of the vows of marriage by revealing that any spousal unfaithfulness is a trespass.
The first act of unfaithfulness toward God occurred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit.
Jewish tradition holds that the Tree of Knowledge was a vine with grapes, the ingredient of wine that a Nazir vows not to drink. This helps to keep him holy because under the influence of wine or strong drink, he may be more vulnerable to the temptation to sin against God.
Both the vow of marriage and the vow of the Nazirite are precious in God’s sight. As well, He expects us to keep our vows.
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4–6)
Finding Peace for Our Lives: The Aaronic Benediction (Birkat Kohanim)
“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites.’” (Numbers 6:23)
This portion of Scripture provides the important priestly blessing called the Aaronic Benediction (Birkat Kohanim). It is also known as Nesi’at Kapayim(lifting of the hands) because the priests release the blessings with uplifted hands.
Only adult males over Bar Mitzvah age (13 and up) who are descendants of Aaron perform this benediction and only in the presence of a minyan (a quota of 10 adult males).
Although a minyan consists of only males in Orthodox Judaism, more liberal sects allow for the inclusion of women.
According to Jewish custom, the Kohen (priest) may not recite the blessing under the influence of alcohol or after the recent death of a close relative. Other conditions disqualify a Kohen from participating in the reciting of this special blessing, including a serious speech impediment, having taken a human life, blindness, or marriage to a disqualifying woman (e.g., a descendant of Aaron is forbidden to marry a divorcee; his wife must be a virgin).
Today, during Biblical holidays, large crowds gather at the Kotel (Western Wall) to receive the priestly blessing from the Kohanim (Jewish priests).
Once assembled on a raised platform, the Kohanim recite the blessing with raised hands.
Traditionally, congregational members cover their heads with their tallitot (plural for tallit—prayer shawl) and do not look directly at the Kohanim during the reciting of the benediction. A man’s children, even if grown, will come under their father’s tallit for the blessing, as well.
This simple but eloquent blessing from (Numbers 6:24–26) is a benediction of love and peace consisting of the three best known verses in the entire Torah:
May the LORD bless you and guard you
May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you
May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace
The blessing ends with what is considered by ancient Jewish sages as the “climax of all blessings”—shalom (peace). The word shalom, however, not only means peace, hello, and goodbye, it also carries the connotation of wholeness, completion and perfection.
The rabbis contend that shalom is one of the pillars of the world and that a household cannot stand when it is divided through strife.
Everyone seeks peace, but how can it be achieved and maintained?
It is not enough to simply receive the blessing of peace from the Kohanim if we then go out and create strife.
The Bible instructs us to live in peace with everyone as far as it depends upon us, (Romans 12:18). In reality, much of the peace in our life (or lack thereof) does depends on us and not others.
One major source of strife in our life is our tongue. The rabbis believe we can have peace through avoiding lashon hara (literally, an evil tongue), which is sin such as slander, careless speech or speaking in a rude manner toward others.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Unity must be fostered through speech and action. That is how we carry one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Messiah.
they will no longer learn war.
In that day even the beasts of the field will lie down together in peace: the wolf with the lamb, the leopard with the goat and the calf with the lion. A young child will have no fear even of playing with a cobra or a viper. (Isaiah 11:6–9)
When will this time come? When Yeshua returns to rule and reign in peace and righteousness.
Until that time, we have peace if we allow Him to reign in our hearts and lives.
Peace is our very inheritance since Yeshua bequeathed it to us before He was executed by the Romans: “My peace (shalom) I leave with you.” (John 14:27)
It is a supernatural peace that passes all understanding.
May we each receive His blessing, divine protection, favor, the light of His face, and also peace, wholeness, and completion—in Him!
“For Messiah Himself has brought peace to us.” (Ephesians 2:14)