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Nazir staring out at a field with Naso written in hebrew

Parashat Naso: Death and Determination

Parashat Naso: Death and Determination

Silber, Rabbi Shmuel
June 14, 2024

The nazir (nazirite) vows to refrain from contact with the dead, wine, and cutting his hair. But he must begin his nazirite period again if he unintentionally encounters a corpse. We, too, should learn how to respond to failure, by not remaining sunk in despair, but rather getting up and starting again.          

The Nazir’s Failure

…In this week’s Parsha… we are introduced to… the Nazir. He is a man who takes a vow to abstain from wine, cutting his hair, and coming in contact with the dead… The Nazir is a person who has lost his way, has become too entrenched in the material world, and is looking to hit the life reset button… 

But sometimes the best laid plans go awry… The Nazir tried his best, but an unavoidable circumstance puts a corpse in his proximity. The [Torah states that the] days observed fall by the wayside, and the Nazir must restart the fulfillment of his vow. 

Get Up and Start Again

The Beis Yisroel (Rabbi Yisroel Alter of Gur, 1895-1977) explains that… The Nazir represents a person looking for more out of life. He realizes that he is not living the life he should be living… So, he decides to make dramatic life change… But then he failed. He finds himself in proximity to a corpse, and everything ends; he must start all over again… 

But it is here, in these details, that God teaches us how to deal with failure. “V’kidash es rosho ba’yom ha’hu, and he shall sanctify his head on that day;” on the day he finishes his purification process, he gets back up and starts all over again. There is no time for lamenting; there is only time to get up, dust off, and start again… 

New Beginnings

The above-mentioned section ends, “… the previous days shall fall away (be cancelled).” In order to have a meaningful second chance and a new beginning, one must let go of the feelings of pain and failure of the past… A person could feel demoralized in the aftermath of failure, and that prolonged feeling could prevent a person from trying again and believing that things can be different in the future. Sometimes, you just have to let go in order to move on…

The message of the Nazir is a message for us all… What is our response to life failure? Get back up and try again… We may not identify with the restrictions of the Nazir, but his quest for holiness and elevation inspires us all.


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