Thursday, June 2, 2011
Shaleeakh - Nasso "Make and Accounting"
Throughout the Scriptures there are many individuals committed enough to sacrifice their lives in the service of HaShem. Because of their strong commitment, these individuals exhibit the power of faith. They demonstrated the strength and power of HaShem by their willingness to serve Him against all opposition. As followers of Yeshua, we should also be prepared to sacrifice ourselves, and follow Him wherever He leads. In Nasso, we can see the Nazarite vow is this type of commitment. The Nazarite is required to separate totally from family, friends, and the community. He or she are to focus only on serving HaShem. To some individuals the vow lasted a lifetime, but to individuals that voluntarily took the vow the minimum length was seven days. HaShem gives us examples in both the Tanakh and in the Brit Hadashah of individuals that were committed to serve Him as Nazarites. There are four specific examples in Scripture that personify the hardship that comes with the commitment to serve HaShem as a Nazarite. Three of these individuals were Nazarites for life. The three Nazarites for life are dedicated to the service of HaShem before they are born. The fourth individual the scriptures say was under a Nazarite vow, took the vow voluntarily. The four individuals mentioned in the scriptures who were under the Nazarite vow are Shimshon, Sh'mu'el, John the Baptist, and Paul (Rav Shaul). These four individuals became separated from family and friends to become totally focused on serving HaShem.
Bamidbar 6:4-5 states "All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separated himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow." Two of the most unique attributes of the Nazarite vow is the commandment to not eat or drink grape products, and the commandment to let the hair grow long. In other words, a Nazarite was required to change his or her lifestyle in a way that was different from the rest of Yisrael. A Nazarite separated from the social norm. We can see good examples of this separation from the social norm in the characters of Shimshon, Sh'mu'el, and John the Baptist.
Shimshon was a Nazarite from birth. Before he was born his mother dedicated her son to the lifestyle of the Nazarite. Shof'tim 13:4-5 states "Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for, lo, thou shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb:" Shimshon's mother is explicitly instructed by HaShem to refrain from wine, strong drink, and to allow the child's hair to grow. From birth, Shimshon was chosen as a Nazarite to deliver Yisrael from the oppression of the Ph'lishtim. Unfortunately, Shimshon was not totally committed to HaShem. Shimshon took his separation as a Nazarite for granted. As a result, the pleasures of the world became more important to him than serving HaShem. However, HaShem is merciful and forgiving. At the end of his life Shimshon was restored to his former anointing and fulfilled his separation as a Nazarite. Therefore, Shimshon fulfilled the plan for his life, and destroyed Ph'lishtim and delivered Yisrael.
Sh'mu'el was also a Nazarite from birth. 1 Sh'mu'el 1:11 sates "And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget your handmaid, but wilt give unto your handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head." From the womb Sh'mu'el was also set apart for the service of HaShem. Sh'mu'el separation as a Nazarite allowed him to obtain a level of Holiness that was equal with the priests. Therefore, Sh'mu'el was allowed him to remain in the temple and live with the priests. Sh'mu'el 1:22 states "until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever." Unlike Shimshon, Sh'mu'el did not lose focus of his calling. As a result, of his commitment Sh'mu'el even became more righteous than the priests he served with. Sh'mu'el heard the words of HaShem even in the midst of the corruption that was present. As a result, of Sh'mu'el's commitment HaShem chose to speak through Sh'mu'el instead of the priests.
John the Baptist was also anointed as a Nazarite from birth. Luke 1:15 states "for he shall be great before the Lord, and wine and strong drink he may not drink, and of the Holy Spirit he shall be full, even from his mother's womb;" John the Baptist was required to refrain from wine and strong drink from his mother's womb. John the Baptist had a specific calling as a Nazarite. In fact, John the Baptist's calling was to walk in the spirit and power of Elijah. Luke 1:16-17 states "many of the sons of Israel he shall turn to the Lord their God, and he shall go before Him, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn hearts of fathers unto children, and disobedient ones to the wisdom of righteous ones, to make ready for the Lord, a people prepared." HaShem used the commitment and focus of Yochanan the Nazarite, to open the hearts of men for the coming Mashiach.
Not all Nazarites were Nazarites from birth. HaShem made it possible for any individual to accept voluntarily the calling of the Nazarite. Unlike an individual that was born a Nazarite, a voluntary Nazarite shaved his head on taking the vow. An individual that began a Nazarite vow after he or she were born, had become unclean as a result of living in an unclean world. For example, being in the presence of the dead was forbidden to the Nazarite. Therefore, any individual that attended a family members' funeral would become unclean. As a result, voluntary Nazarites were required to shave their heads at the beginning of the vow. Bamidbar 6:9 states "if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it." The shaving of the head allowed the individual start the Nazarite vow without hair. This signified that the individual was totally dedicating himself to the service of HaShem. Rav Shaul is an example of one individual who shaved his head and took a voluntary Nazarite vow. Acts 18:18 states "Paul having remained yet a good many days, having taken leave of the brethren, was sailing to Syria-and with him are Priscilla and Aquilas-having shorn his head in Cenchera, for he had a vow;" The vow that Rav Shaul shaved his head for, was the Nazarite vow. In Acts 21, Rav Shaul goes to Yerusalem to answer accusations that he is preaching against the biblical commandment of circumcision. To prove the accusations are false James commands Paul to take the Nazarite vow. James even instructs Paul to pay the expenses for other individuals taking the vow. Acts 21:18-24 states "the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law." James and the elders saw the Nazarite vow as a way to prove that Paul was not teaching individuals to do away with the commandment of circumcision. Rav Shaul was proving he was committed to serve HaShem with his whole heart. It was the hope of the elders, that others would witness Shaul's commitment and realize he was not instructing the Y'hudim among the nations to violate the commandment of circumcision. Rav Shaul's voluntary commitment to the Nazarite vow was an outward reflection of his obedience to the Torah. Rav Shaul's willingness to accept the voluntary call of the Nazarite set him apart as an individual who was dedicated to serve HaShem. Unfortunately, before Rav Shaul completed his vow he was forcefully removed from the Temple by individuals who preferred to believe the rumors. Despite the persecution Rav Shaul received, HaShem was able to use Rav Shaul's commitment to glorify Yeshua.
Four individuals stand out in Scripture because of the great deeds they accomplished while serving HaShem as Nazarites. To fulfill their callings these individuals gave up family and friends in the service of HaShem. Bamidbar 6:7 states "He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head." The life of a Nazarite must have been very difficult. Therefore, the scriptures do not record many individuals willing to become Nazarite. However, when believers understand the self sacrifice of a Nazarite, we can better understand what it means to put Yeshua in control of every aspect of our lives. As messianic believers we should be willing to separate ourselves from the world and serve HaShem with every aspect of our being.
By Rabbi Yaakov benYosef ABOUT-Torah.org© 2010 About Torah