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Parshat Naso – Connection to Torah, leads to Mitzvot

Numbers 4:21-7:89 from 21 May till 27 May

נָשֹׂ֗א אֶת־רֹ֛אשׁ בְּנֵ֥י גֵרְשׁ֖וֹן גַּם־הֵ֑ם לְבֵ֥ית אֲבֹתָ֖ם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָֽם׃

Take a census of the Gershonites also, by their ancestral house and by their clans.[1]

We are still counting. Bamidbar ended with the counting of the sons of Kehat and here we continue with the counting of the sons of Gershon.

The sons of Kehat had the responsibility of carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Kehat is mentioned first to demonstrate the importance of wanting to commit oneself to G-d and His Torah.

This also applies to Noahides. The moment the realization comes that G-d is a G-d to all, and that He counts every soul that comes to Him, the realization comes for man that he – even he! – counts for G-d, that he is important. That he wants to commit himself to G-d and to perform the task G-d gives him in this world to the best of his ability.

But a task can only be performed when there is knowledge of how G-d wants one to live. Studying the Torah, the 7 Noahide mitzvot, is necessary to correctly perform the task G-d gives man. After all, isn’t that why we are here on earth. To accept His Kingship and carry out the task He gives to make the world a habitable place using the opportunities given to us?

Therefore, Parshat Naso begins by counting the sons of Gershon. They carry all the parts of the Tabernacle. The planks, the rugs, the vessels, etc. It shows that the material world must be put into service for G-d, that it will then receive its true fulfilment. In everyday life, we do this by using our material world for our service to G-d. We can do this by saying a bracha over the food we consume. But also by rolling up our sleeves and helping our neighbors with the materials and tools we have, etc.

The material world – when not used for good – is opposed to the spiritual world. When the material world is not used for good, it is evil. Which brings us back to the name Gershon.

The name Gershon comes from the verb le-garesh – to banish. When we commit ourselves to G-d and to Torah we want to remove evil from our hearts.

For every person, removing evil from the heart is a daily exercise. Noahides often have a very active path behind them in which they have banished many bad habits, norms and values from other religions. But now they have “committed” themselves to the name “Kehat”. They committed themselves to G-d and to His Torah – the 7 Noahide Mitzvot – which G-d gave to His servant Moses at Mount Sinai.

And that brings us back to name Kehat, which signifies “gathering” or “collection”. When the heart is cleared there is more room for Torah, there is more room to work on good attributes, norms and values and to receive the good.

By Angelique Sijbolts

[1] Bamidbar 4:22, and Kehut Chumash

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