Torah Portion

Nasso

נשא

Numbers 4:21-7:89
Judges 13:2–25
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Samson the Demigod?

Samson the Demigod?

Samson’s conception story may be read subversively as the result of a union between a divine being and a mortal woman, making Samson a demi-god with superhuman characteristics. At the same time, the text keeps open the more mundane possibility that his father is Manoah and his powers are simply a gift from God.

Dr.
Naphtali Meshel
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The Sotah Ritual: Permitting a Jealous Husband to Remain with His Wife

The Sotah Ritual: Permitting a Jealous Husband to Remain with His Wife

The root ק.נ.א “jealous zeal” in the chapter on the sotah (Numbers 5) highlights a key goal of the ritual and its accompanying offering, namely, to remove the husband’s jealous zeal and allow him to remain with his wife without guilt.

Prof.
Hanna Liss
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Queen Helena of Adiabene and Her Sons in Midrash and History

Queen Helena of Adiabene and Her Sons in Midrash and History

Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, tells the story of Queen Helena of Adiabene and her sons Kings Izates II and Monobazus II, and how they converted to Judaism in the mid-first century C.E. Rabbinic literature preserves several anecdotes about this family. However, the rabbis knew little about them, and grappled with their insider/outsider status.

Dr.
Malka Zeiger Simkovich
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Queen Berenice: A Woman of Contrasts

Queen Berenice: A Woman of Contrasts

Queen Berenice is infamous for being the traitorous lover of Titus and for rejecting the Great Rebellion against Rome, along with her brother Agrippa II. But she was also a pious woman who took a Nazirite vow, was attached to her God and her people, and even risked her life to save her fellow Jews from Roman soldiers.

Dr.
Malka Zeiger Simkovich
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The Guilt of the Slanderer and the Sotah: From Certainty to Uncertainty

The Guilt of the Slanderer and the Sotah: From Certainty to Uncertainty

The original laws of the slandering husband (מוציא שם רע) and the Sotah woman accused of adultery — both take one party’s guilt as a given. Each of these laws was subsequently redacted in a way that eliminated the automatic assumption of guilt.

Idan Dershowitz
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Israel's Development as a Nation: Form, Storm, Norm, Perform

Israel's Development as a Nation: Form, Storm, Norm, Perform

The Torah often uses the repetition of certain terms and wordplay to underline important themes. Numbers uses the terms נשא (nas’a: “to carry”) and נסע (nas‘a; “to travel”) to highlight the development of Israel from independent clans to a nation in a way that fits well with the model of group formation first suggested by psychologist Bruce Tuckman.

Dr.
Shani Tzoref
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Who Was Samson's Real Father?

Who Was Samson's Real Father?

Samson’s birth story deprecates Samson’s father, Manoah; this serves to highlight the identity of his real father: The angel of the LORD did more than announce Samson’s birth to Manoah’s wife.

Prof.
Marc Zvi Brettler
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Birkat Kohanim: The Magic of a Blessing

Birkat Kohanim: The Magic of a Blessing

Why was the priestly benediction placed together with the laws of nazir and the laws of sotah

Dr.
Shawna Dolansky
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Preparing for Sinai: God and Israel Test Each Other

Preparing for Sinai: God and Israel Test Each Other

The opening of the wilderness-wandering story in Exodus uses the Leitwort נ-ס-ה to underline the process of reciprocal testing between Israel and God as preparation for the Sinai event. This testing parallels that of the wilderness-wandering story in Numbers, which uses the Leitworter נ-ס-ע and נ-ש-א to underline the process of preparation Israel goes through before entering the land.

Dr.
Shani Tzoref
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Shekhar: Is it Wine or Beer?

Shekhar: Is it Wine or Beer?

The nazir must abstain from shekhar (שֵׁכָר), and it must be poured on the altar as a libation – but what is it? Understanding the ecology of ancient Israel can help answer the question.

Dr.
Elaine Goodfriend
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Nasso

נשא

Numbers 4:21-7:89

כֹּה תְבָרֲכוּ אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אָמוֹר לָהֶם׃ יְבָרֶכְךָ יְ-הוָה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ...

במדבר ו:כג-כד

Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: May YHWH bless you and protect you...

Num 6:23-24

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