Pearls of Rashi – Naso

This week we read the Torah portion of Naso, which is the longest Parshah in the entire Torah. As such it obviously discusses quite a few topics. Among that which the Torah teaches us here is the law of a Sotah, an unfaithful wife. At the beginning of this subject the Torah says that (Bamidbar 5:12) “Should any man’s wife go astray …” The word which the Torah uses for “going astray” (תשטה) is related to the Hebrew word for folly or foolishness (שטות). Rashi is quick to point this out. He cites the words “Should any man’s wife go astray” and comments as follows. “Our Sages teach that adulterers do not sin unless a spirit of folly (שְׁטוּת) enters them …” In fact the Sages teach this as a general rule which applies to all types of sins. The Talmud (Sotah 3, a) says that “Resh Lakish said, ‘A person does not commit a transgression unless a spirit of folly (שטות) enters into him as it is said, ‘If any man’s wife go astray.’’”

What Rashi and the Sages are telling us is that one would never sin unless he is overcome by temporary insanity. The Torah contains 613 commandments. Why teach us this concept here? Why not use any of the other 612 commandments to teach us this?

Our relationship with G-d is analogous to that of a wife to her husband. That is the basis of an entire book of the Bible, the Song of Songs. Hence when a Jew sins he is analogous to an unfaithful wife. Hashem gives us life, sustains us and takes care of us. He cares for every detail of our existence. He even creates us! Listening to Him should be axiomatic! How it is possible for me to ignore what “my husband” tells me? Moreover, how and why should I allow myself to “wander” and express interest in a different “husband?”

There are two possible explanations. One is that I am unaware of the care which G-d shows to me. I was never taught about the relationship which I have with my “spouse.” In that case now is the time for my fellow Jews who are fortunate enough to have received a Jewish education to share their knowledge with me.

If I am educated “Jewishly” and choose to stray nevertheless (G-d forbid), I must be temporarily insane. But that is no reason to despair. It is only temporary. I always have the option to get my priorities straight and do Teshuvah.

May Hashem help us all to regain our sanity! Have a wonderful Shabbos and a really meaningful Yom Tov!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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