We are pleased to share Jacob Sadow’s dvar Torah on Parashat Naso from his recent bar mitzvah at Bonai Shalom.
My Torah Parsha is Naso. It is the longest parsha in the Torah. So naturally the shortest kid in the Bnai mitzvah class gets it. I must say it was fun learning Torah and Haftorah. In addition to studying for my Bar Mitzvah this year I also participated in many new activities. All of these new experiences had one thing in common… they required commitment.
Many of the things I did this year were very fun, many others, weren’t very fun at all, but I chose to do all of them.
Part of my Torah portion is about G-d telling Moses about the law of the Nazarite vow of abstinence. My Haftorah is about Manoah’s wife who is barren. She encounters an angel who tells that she will have a son and that son will be a Nazarite from the womb.
Jumping ahead a couple of haftorot … we learn son is Samson. Most of us here know the story of Samson. He was super strong and beat the Philistines every time they attacked.
He fell in love with a Philistine woman named Delihlah. She discovered out the secret of his strength. Now here is where most stories get it wrong. They say secret of his strength was his hair, but it really was his vow of Nazirship that gave him his strength.
So what is a Nazir or Nazarite vow? My Torah portion says a Nazir is a person who takes the Nazarite vow of abstinence from grape products, unholy objects and does not take a razor to his or her head.
According to Rashi, they have to avoid people because if someone they are with suddenly dies, just being near a corpse, an unholy object, would break their vow.
This vow is taken for a limited period of time and at the end of the vow, the Nazir will make a sing offering and take a razor to his head.
Kinda like becoming a Jewish Monk. It takes commitment.
We all know that in the end that Samson dies. However, we learn in my Haftorah that the angel committed Samson to being a Nazarite, he did not commit to make the vow. When an Israelite took the vow, they observed the vow for a period of time only.
This doesn’t work out so well for Samson because when the Philistine learn the secret of his strength, G-d leaves him and he is captured and eventually dies. So even though he was a Nazarite, he did not take the vow/commit himself.
That kind of gives the impression that being a Nazir is bad. However, the Torah doesn’t state why one would take this vow. So why would one take this vow?
There are times when it’s good. According to Maimonides, the vow of the Nazir is for those who really need it. Like an alcohol addict, he or she would take the vow of Nazirship to help him avoid wine, so the vow helps him to commit to not drinking alcohol.
I thought that the Nazarite vow was a bad choice because the Nazir just goes out into the mountains and doesn’t do anything bad. But isn’t the core of Judaism to make the world a better place? If you don’t do anything good or bad, then you’re just wasting space and time, so why does the Torah offer it?
Now I think it is because it shows you that commitment is important.
As Maimonides said it’s to help you get over your problems. You can’t help others if you need help, a starving man can’t feed the hungry because he has no food himself, in order for you to help others you have to commit and take the steps you need to take so that you can help said others.
You need to commit to taking the steps necessary to help others, one of those steps might be: to take a Nazarite vow and help yourself so that you can help others.
I’m not saying to place yourself above others, I’m saying that you need to be able to help others if you want to help them, a starving man can’t feed the hungry.
I learned throughout everything I did this year that you have to choose to do the things you want to do to get them done. On Tall Ships I sailed for a week in the Pacific Ocean on a ship called the Tole Mour. In order for the Tole Mour to function we had to do a lot of things I rather wouldn’t have wanted to do, like waking up at midnight after a long exhausting day of work. But we all had to commit to do it so that we could do the more fun things like snorkeling with sea lions or sailing the ship. And once I committed it was amazing. Because I committed to having fun and I got it.
From Odyssey of the Mind a creativity competition where you and six others compete against other teams to see who is the most creative I discovered that when you have to work with others towards one common goal you all have to commit. If even one of you isn’t committing fully towards your goal then your result will be that much worse. It doesn’t matter what your working towards, but if you make something and committed to doing it, then even if it’s terrible, it will always be better, then something amazing that nobody committed to building fully.
At school I have had to commit to doing all my homework or else I would have had to repeat Algebra. I committed to staying after school every day I could to do my homework. I committed to getting what I needed done and now I don’t have to repeat Algebra.
During my Bar-Mitzvah preparation I had to commit to learning my Haftorah, Dvar-Torah, and the Musaf of I wouldn’t be standing before you today. I committed to working at least 20 minutes every day studying so that I could stand here and give you this Dvar-Torah. And here I am today talking to you now because of that commitment. Without commitment you can’t do anything good.
The Nazir is the Torah’s way of saying that you have to commit to making the world a better place. The Nazir commits himself to making himself able to help others.
You have to commit to do well in everything you do if you don’t you will never succeed at anything you want to get done. Through all of these things I did this year I learned that the most important tool you have is commitment.
And so I am going to commit to continuing my studies as a Jew in Hebrew High, I commit to doing what I can to make this world a better place by learning how to do so, in the best way possible, and then doing it. But what will you do? What will you commit to?
Yasher koach, Jacob! Boulder Jewish News encourages Bar and Bat Mitzvah students to submit their d’var torah for publication, so that the community may learn from our young adults. Information about Mitzvah/Tikkun Olam projects is also welcome. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.