This week’s parsha is about what a jealous husband should do if he suspects his wife of cheating on him but has no witnesses to prove it.  (Before you ask — No. There’s nothing about what a jealous wife should do.)

Of course, the man makes a sacrifice.  That’s the first thing.  Then the priest has the accused wife swear she didn’t do anything wrong.  If she doesn’t swear, the priest curses her.  We don’t perform that ritual anymore.   Today a jealous husband hires a private detective.  No offerings of grain to any priest.

Also in this passage is the description of how to make someone a Nazirite.

The important point about becoming a Nazirite is that a person chooses it of his own accord.  He’s not a descendant of Aaron.  He doesn’t have to be a member of any tribe.  This is a vow that a person—any person–chooses to make.  The Nazirite agrees not to drink wine or grape juice—or even eat grapes!  He shaves his head.  Then he doesn’t cut it again for as long as his vow lasts.  Also, he can’t be near dead people.

Oddly, the parsha says what a Nazirite shouldn’t do.  It doesn’t say what the Nazirite does do.  We know he wasn’t like a monk, cut off from the world, because we know that Samson the warrior was a Nazirite.  In fact, Samson is the subject of this week’s Haftorah. 

Could it be that the Naziritic tradition was, as Rabbi Richard Hirsch suggests, an outlet for people who wanted to be extra religious?

TheTorah deals with jealous husbands
Nasso deals with jealous husbands

Food for Thought

This week’s parsha describes customs and rituals we no longer follow.  What parts of ancient Judaism do you find meaningful today?