Numbers 4:21 – 7:89

This portion gives us the ancient Priestly Blessing. It also describes the ordeal of the woman who is accused of unfaithfulness by her jealous husband.


AT THIS TIME OF NASO we give and receive the great and ancient Priestly Blessing. Our arms are outstretched above the tumult of our lives and our hands imitate cloven hooves, invoking the power of the animals of our shepherding ancestors who bless this world through us.

God commands the priests (and the priest or priestess within each of us) to bless each other with these words:

May God bless you and guard you.
May God shine his faces upon you and grace you.
May God lift up his face to you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
May you be filled with the Divine Flow
and may its essence transform you
so that you are protected from your habits of distortion.
May the fierce and loving light of God shine
through all illusions of self, dissolving the walls
that seem to keep out the miracle of grace.
May the face of God that is hidden in everything
remove its mask and reveal the truth
of our inter-connectedness.
And may the love that shines through
the face-of-all-things give you peace.

The Divine command concludes: “So shall they put my name upon the Israelites and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:27)

Through this blessing, God’s name — the Divine Essence — rests upon us.

The privilege of carrying the Name/Essence of God into the world is the greatest blessing we can bear. It is giving and receiving at once. It is the pure state of becoming and being a blessing. When I carry that essence consciously, every moment begins to sparkle with meaning — even moments of suffering, moments of terror, even the moment of my death… .

Each moment is received by a heart that is as vast as the sea and alive with compassion. Carrying that Divine Essence is like being a drop that knows the ocean within it. The Divine Name/Essence makes us infinitely large, certainly big enough to absorb and endure the events of our lives.


NASO DESCRIBES A SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE that all of us must at some point endure. This challenge is symbolized by a woman who is accused of adultery by her jealous husband. She undergoes a test to determine if she has indeed been unfaithful.

That woman is each of us, married to the Divine Essential Mystery. Our relationship to that mystery is dynamic and complex: dynamic, because we are always moving in and out of connection — remembering, forgetting and remembering again; complex, because the ego is oftentimes engaged in a subtle (or not-so-subtle) practice of deception.

In the ordeal that Naso describes, we ask the truth to make itself known, even if it will make us uncomfortable. We ask to cut through the web of self-deception in order to discover if we have truly “gone astray.”

WHEN I WAS A CHILD I had frequent stomach-aches. I was outwardly very shy, but had an active inner life. As a teenager, I began to notice a pattern to my stomach-aches. Whenever I had something to say and didn’t say it, the unsaid words would immediately go to my stomach. My body would not let me withhold my truth without paying the price. My body became a strict teacher, and I listened to its signals in order to find my voice. I was the woman who had gone astray, set back on my path through the power of a fierce love.

When the woman who is tested in Naso proves her innocence, her loyalty to Truth, she is made fruitful; failing the test, she is left barren.

So too, our creative lives depend on the unwavering commitment to our essential wholeness and integrity, and we betray that integrity at our peril.

THE SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE of Naso is to receive the ordeals of our own lives as agents of Truth. Through them we are tested, humbled and refined. Our defenses are stripped away. We are distilled to our essence. In response to this challenge, I vow to use everything in my life, in service to the Truth — to let life’s bitter waters dissolve the web of self-deception that I weave. If I have been led astray by my fears or delusions, I ask that the flow of my life lead me back to the Truth.

This is no small request. Making such a request of life requires that we pay close attention and be prepared to receive the response in the language in which life speaks to us: that of everyday circumstances.

I HAVE LEARNED that this perspective on life must be limited to the personal. I do not have permission to see someone else’s life this way or to interpret their hardship as a gift. Compassion is the correct response to the suffering of others. The perception of my own ordeal, however, may be transformed into a force of healing and truth.


Blessing Our Own Ordeal

SIT QUIETLY FOR A FEW MINUTES and quiet the mind by focusing on the breath.

CLOSE YOUR EYES and see the pathway of your own life’s journey, spiraling up a great mountain. Stand at the summit and look down on the landscape of your life. Find the path that you have traveled. Trace it from birth through childhood, adolescence into adulthood, imagining what the landscape looks and feels like viewed from a long perspective.


CALL UP AN IMAGE of yourself at that point of ordeal and pour out your compassion on the one who you were.

SLOWLY AND CLEARLY SPEAK TO HER the words of the Priestly Blessing:

May God bless you and guard you.
May God shine his faces upon you and grace you.
May God lift up his face to you and give you peace.

RETURN NOW TO THE SUMMIT and say a prayer of gratefulness for your path. The most powerful and transformative prayer you can say is simply, “Thank you.” At first the words might ring hollow, but as you keep saying, “Thank you,” the sound in your voice will begin to change and the words will be filled up with the hidden meaning which emerges from that point of ordeal on your journey.

STAY AT THAT SUMMIT OF GRATEFULNESS for a few minutes, noticing the feelings in your body.


Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
©2006 Shefa Gold. All rights reserved.