This week’s Torah portion, Naso, has 4 main sections —-
- How different clans would have different jobs taking care of the Tent of Meeting.
- What to do if your wife/woman goes astray & you’re crazy jealous. You can check out my previous post on this misogynist – but truly intriguing & possibly useful – ritual here.
- The vow of the Nazirite (see Wikipedia article for more detail).
- Priestly blessing (May God bless you & keep you, etc.) followed by a long list of who brought what sacrifices & other tchotchkes for the start-up of the altar of the sacrificial system and on what day.
—- though I’d like to focus more specifically on #3, the Nazirite.
It doesn’t take much to qualify. You make a vow to God. You let your hair grow (think: dreadlocks). You abstain from wine, grapes, vinegar, and related products. You avoid dead bodies. This can be for a lifetime or a short while. You’re seen in some circles as pure, in others as a sinner who is making amends. Samson was a Nazirite who likely fell off the wagon with a party. The prophet Samuel was another, though most who took up the mantle were ordinary folks trying to make things right for a little while. Getting themselves clean & pure. I could do this, give up grapes & haircuts & dead people.
But give up the stuff that would really challenge me? No siree.
I’m quite good at doing those things – even if difficult – that I believe in down to my very last cell (i.e., those items brought on by devout ideology or unalterable temperament), but not if it involves my core compulsions — almost all of which, I should add, have to do with indulging myself in ways that are just dumb.
My Nazirite/consecrated list might look like this:
- No processed sugar.
- No fabulously dark chocolate after 4 p.m. (it gives me insomnia, yet I continue to imbibe).
- No sitting on my rear end for 2 hours at a time without stretching, even if it is for poetry. Bad for the back. Every time.
- No rolling my eyes at the spouse (especially when he’s looking).
- No saying “yes” when I really, truly mean NO.
To live this list would be really good for me. It would improve my physical self, make those I love & care for less crazed, and lead to less existential angst. I’ve tried vowing every way that I know how and still fail. Over and over. Miserably. On every count. Maybe after a few hours or a few days or a week (or two), even with the best of intentions. Why? Because this is about me – and not the greater good. I gave up shrimp (which I really adored) for my beloved, but somehow can’t give up sugar for myself. It’s hard (she says, whining). It feels so good.
Dear readers, I’d love to hear your suggestions. Surely I can do better than this.