Will the Priests please raise their hands?
Finally we arrive at the Parasha of Naso, which, for the past two weeks we have been reading as the Monday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoon reading. In the diaspora anyway. They are already on Behalotecha in Israel because they had a normal shabbat last week fter the one day Yom Tov, while we were celebrating Yom Tov Sheni in the Galut.
Anyway, though I have no sources in front of me, I believe this is the longest Parasha in the Torah. Notwithstanding, in my opinion the most important part of the parasha is 15 words long and is the most interesting scribal oddity in the Book of Numbers until we get to the inverted nuns in next week's portion. I am referring to the Priestly Blessing. Thus shall the sons of Aaron, the Priests bless the people Israel: May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and be gracious to you, may the Lord make his countanence upon you and give you Peace. This is loose and from memory and in my own translation. I believe it is the conclusion of Chapter 6. Through this is established an eternal caste system which lifts the Levitical Priests above the nation of Israel. This act, which I had not experienced in my lifetime until a week after 9/11 on Rosh Hashannah 5762 was a daily occurrence in Jerusalem, and twice on days with fasts or musaf. If I was there on Yom Kippur, I would get it four times. The Priests channel God's Blessing unto the people in a strange ritual, known as duchanen. Mr. Spock in Star Trek, or more accurately the actor who portrayed him, Leonard Nimoy, is a Kohen, and created the Vulcan salute, the hand signal and the phrase "Live long and prosper" as an homage to his kahuna. Just a random factoid.
um, I don't think this guy was ever on the Enterprise; they flew on Shabbos
It is interesting that the be-all-end-all blessing that we want God to bless us with is peace. Shalom, peace, is the last word of the Amidah, the central prayer in Judaism, and is the last word in almost every religious service, as the last word in the Mourners Kaddish, the Rabbis Kaddish, and the Full Kaddish, and the Great Kaddish. It is obviously the ultimate goal, then, for us to be blessed with peace. So may we be blessed.
PS (Post Shabbbos): I neglected to mention that the scribal oddity here is that within the Torah scroll itself, the three blessings look something like the following
if you were to hold your hand in the shape of the Priestly/Vulcan hand-gesture, you would have hte space in between your ring and middle fingers showing the inner texts. Try it, but I don't actually advocate touching the Torah scroll as it causes tuma (and it's disrespectful, to boot), but look in a Tikkun.
Aww, there's so much I want to talk about from this parasha, the Sotah (God allowing the erasure of His Name in order to protect the family), the Nazir (someone who wants to become closer to God and therefore must abstain from things, but is actually sinning for doing this), the Original Chanukkah (on the twelfth day of Chanukkah my true prince gave to me, 5 golden shovels!). All this, you may have to wait for next year, or the year after that... mwa ha ha...