To Be a Blessed Community

By Rabbi Steven Bayar

This week’s Torah portion is Naso; in it we find two important texts adjacent to each other. The first gives us the rules of the Nazirite; a person who for reasons unimportant decides to accept a stricter level of observance than required. He is allowed this vow for no more than one year and is required after the year to resume his former life and to bring a sin offering to the Temple in Jerusalem. Immediately after this section on the laws of the Nazirite, the sons of Aaron (the Kohanim) are informed that “this is the way you will bless all of Israel,” followed by the priestly blessing (May the Lord bless you and keep you…). All of Israel are to be blessed by them.

There are many lessons learned from these texts — but one stands out, especially at this time and this week. The text informs us that “all of Israel” are to be blessed: Those that feel the need to do more along with those that do nothing. We are all one community when it comes to God. No matter what our lifestyle, no matter what our values — we all deserve to be blessed. Any person who resorts to terrorism to enforce their beliefs or who believes that it is their God-given right to kill those he doesn’t agree with is wrong.

Blessings are not passive. We bless with actions as well as words. The events of these past days should inform us that if we are to be a blessed community we must take action to prevent the tragedies assailing us.