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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Bemidbar: Parashat Naso: Extreme Personalities

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

In parashat Naso, we find two types of people that are extreme and unique in nature: The Sotah and the Nazir.

Who are they?

Sotah- this is a woman who is suspected by her husband of cheating on him with another man. She is brought to the Kohen, where a ceremony is performed to see if she is honorable or not.

Nazir- An individual decides to forbid himself of any grape or grape product, in an effort to become closer to Hashem.

Each of these individuals has a plethora of halachot surrounding them. Nevertheless, on the surface, we can ask a basic question regarding the order the Torah speaks of them.

Sotah is mentioned first, followed by Nazir. The Rabbis explain the connection in a very clear fashion. Had one witnessed the Sotah's ceremony, and watch her tragically die if guilty, one would want to distance oneself from wine. For one would reason that it was the wine, being drunk, that caused this woman to stray and cheat on her husband. It is a logical step for one to want to be a Nazir, and be about such obstacles, and therefore the Torah speaks of Nazir next.

Interestingly, in the gemara, Masechet Nazir comes before Masechet Sotah.

Why the switch?

In the gemara (the Oral Tradition), our Rabbis want us to always strive to attain a higher level of holiness. By switching the order, the Rabbi are trying to teach us an important message: We should not wait until some tragic event pulls us towards religiosity (be it a Sotah woman, a death in the family, or towers falling). Rather, we should strive to become more religious, like the Nazir, and then we will not become susceptible to sinning (like the Sotah woman).

"Sur Merah, Va'Ase Tob" - "Move Away from bad and do good"

Rabbi explain that "Sur Merah" - "Move Away from bad" means that one should put "doing bad" out of one's mind, and through this distancing it will be easier to do good.

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