The word by which this week’s Parsha is known – Naso, is defined as counting, and is used several times in this and last week’s Parsha. The Ohr HaChaim questions the use of Naso as opposed to Pakod, which was used earlier to mean counting (of the Leviim). The Ohr HaChaim (Bamidbar 4:1) explains that since this family of Leviim, the Bnei Kehos, were elevated in that they were chosen for special responsibilities in the Beis HaMikdash, it is more fitting to use the term Naso, to indicate their being uplifted and elevated.
The concept of being elevated through performing special functions, and bearing lofty responsibilities is relatively easy to grasp. A person who attains a higher level of mastery and assumes greater responsibility is considered to be on a higher status. There is, however, another aspect to becoming elevated, and that impacts the entire world around us.
In Chapter 1 of Mesilas Yesharim, the author states “… one who gains control of himself and serves his Creator… he is elevated and the world is elevated with him.” To some extent, one’s spiritual attainments impact on the physical world. What is this concept of elevation, and how do we share it with our children?
The world in general is oblivious to this spiritual aspect of existence. Life consists of physical pleasures and pains. People focus on the end product, and the need to work to bring home money to pay for one’s physical needs. One’s food, shelter and clothing are ends unto themselves and are the goal for which one toils. Not so the Jew. We have the capacity to take the mundane, to use the physical as our tool, and raise it to a spiritual level.
Our children can and should become attuned to understanding this idea on their level. We don’t throw food on the ground, because Hashem created it. We don’t cause unnecessary pain to even the lowliest bug, because it is one of Hashem’s creations. On a higher level, we don’t allow a Sefer to rest on the bottom of a pile, or even be turned upside down, because it is imbued with holiness. We act differently inside a shul because it is a place of holiness.
This idea goes further. A child’s (or adult’s) mouth that is used to daven and learn Torah, may not be defiled by speaking hurtful or unclean words. A table, that is compared to the Mizbeach, altar, is not to be climbed upon. A pair of tzitzis once rendered no longer usable may not be disposed of like any other faded or damaged article of clothing.
Our children are aware of these practices, but they might not be connecting the dots. They live in a rich and meaningful world that has a spiritual essence underlying every bit of physical matter. If only this could penetrate and permeate their consciousness – and ours’!! When we eat – it’s not merely to satisfy our hunger; rather it’s to provide us with strength to learn Torah and perform Mitzvos. When we lie down to sleep – it’s not only to refresh our bodies, but it’s also to provide us with renewed vigor to pursue our spiritual responsibilities. When we go off to work and the children go off to learn – even math and literature – they are means to the end of living a deeply rewarding spiritual life.Living a life of meaning, finding purpose in all that is mundane, recognizing the Divine spark in the material world, understanding one’s value as a Tzelem Elokim -a reflection of eternity, all combine to creating a young adult who is on a higher plane, who has great pride in being one of Hashem’s chosen.
If we can strive for these values, role model them, and imbue them in our children at a young age, we are truly elevating them and their world, to the pinnacle of existence.
Have a spiritually joyful Shabbos,