Marc Chagall

2024-06-15 - Parashah Naso

Torah: Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:21 – 7:89; Haftarah: Judges 13:2-25

The Second Census

The previous Parashah ends with a census being taken from the families of Kohath from the tribe of Levi, ahead of the families of Gershon, the first born. This is to signify the reverence for the Ark, for which the Kohathites were responsible. But, to emphasize the equality of the two families, the Scripture further says in this week's Parashah, "Naso gam-hem," literally "raise up as well," i.e., give honor as well to the families of Gershon. The Kohathites carried the most sacred parts of the Tabernacle, while the Gershonites carried the less sacred. But by saying, “as well,” the Torah makes the point that both tasks are necessary for the Tabernacle and both should be done with equal joy. This is an implied message to people who may not have the ability of doing certain jobs for the Kingdom of God. It is easy for such people to be discouraged, but to this, the Torah responds that whether one bears the exalted Ark or only the curtains, every role is significant, because each is a unique participant in the sacred service and worship of the LORD, just as the apostle Shaul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:

"To each is given the disclosure of the Ruach haKodesh for the common benefit. To one, through the Ruach haKodesh, is given a word of wisdom; to another, according to the same Ruach haKodesh, a word of knowledge; to another, by the same Ruach haKodesh, faith; to another, by the one Ruach haKodesh, gifts of healing... All these things are activated by the one and same Ruach haKodesh, distributing individually to each one as He determines. For even as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so is Moshiach. For also in one Ruach HaKodesh we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or freedman, and all were given to drink, as it were, from one Ruach HaKodesh. For the body is not one, but many members. But the members should have the same deeds of loving-kindness and caring for one another."

The parallelism between the Scriptures describing the hearts of men in the process of building the Tabernacle and the hearts of men in the process of building the Ekklesia, the new spiritual Temple, is striking. Please compare the two Scriptures below:

"It was on the day that Moshe had finished setting up the Tabernacle that he anointed it, and sanctified it, and all its instruments, both the Altar and all its utensils, and had anointed them, and sanctified them. The leaders of Israel, the heads of the house of their fathers, who were the leaders of the tribes, and who were those who were counted, brought offerings. And they brought their offering before the LORD." Numbers 7:1

"And they were constantly devoting themselves to the Moshiach Shluchim's (apostles') teaching and to the Messianic Chavura (fellowship), to the shared meals with breaking bread and to prayer. All were filled with awe, and many wonders and signs through Moshiach's Shluchim were taking place. And all those who had believed were together and they were having all things in common. And they were selling their properties and possessions and were distributing tzedakah to everyone as someone had need. And day by day, devoting themselves with one mind in the courts of the Beit haMikdash, and from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart praising the LORD, and having favor with all the people." Acts 2:42-47

Moshe finished erecting the Tabernacle, anointed it, and sanctified it, so, too, our Messiah finished erecting the Ekklesia, the New Holy Tabernacle in His body, anointed it, and sanctified it by sending the Holy Spirit, the Ruach haKodesh. And just as the people of ancient Israel responded to the awesomeness of the earthly Tabernacle bringing offerings from their overflowing hearts, so too the believers seeing the awesomeness of the new Tabernacle, the Ekklesia, brought gifts above and beyond their abilities with hearts overflowing with joy.

May God teach us to have again this awe of His New Tabernacle, of His Ekklesia, and be together, Jews and Gentiles, two loaves of fine flower as the Shavuot offering, with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God for He had mercy on all of us, Jews and Gentiles, while we were sinners. And, as sanctified utensils of this New Tabernacle, spread the Good News to Jews and Gentiles alike, using the gifts that the Ruach haKodesh gave to each, because each member of the body is an important instrument for the Kingdom.

The blessings come by being together, by not forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25), just as the Israelis received blessings when assembled in the Tabernacle. God used the priestly blessing as a conduit for blessing His people: "May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you (His) Shalom" (Numbers 6:24).

Shabbat joy, peace, and blessings! Shabbat Shalom!

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