The Paradoxical Juxtaposition by Binyamin Jachter


As the longest single Parashah in the Torah, Parashat Naso contains many different topics. Two such topics which are juxtaposed to each other are that of Sotah, a woman who is accused of adultery due to the suspicion of her husband, and Nazir, a man who vows to abstain from certain activities such as cutting his hair and drinking wine in order to bring himself closer to Hashem. Rebbe asks (Sotah 2a), “Why is the Parashah of Nazir juxtaposed to the Parashah of Sotah?” He ambiguously answers, “It is in order to make anyone that watched the Sotah while being punished become like a Nazir from wine.” Nevertheless, the exact connection between the Nazir and Sotah still remains unclear.

Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky, in his book Amittah Shel Torah, explains that the common denominator between Sotah and Nazir lies in both of their connections to the spiritual relationship we have with Hashem. A peaceful marriage brings the Shechinah closer to the couple (Sotah 17a) just like a Nazir’s oath to Hashem is intended to bring the Shechinah closer to him. Rabbi Twersky broadens the comparison and points out that there are many similarities at the core of both Parshiyot. One such similarity is the act of drinking. While the Sotah is forced to drink the Tumah water, the Nazir is not permitted to drink wine. Another parallel between these two people is how they are supposed to treat their hair. While the Kohein must shave the Sotah’s hair off, the Nazir is required to let his hair grow. It is clear from these comparisons that the Sotah and Nazir are inverses of each other: what one is required to do, the other is prohibited to do. The humiliated status of a Sotah is as great as the exalted status of a Nazir.

The elevated status of a Nazir is further found by his status being similar to that of a Kohein since both a Nazir and Kohein abstain from similar activities. The lesson that can be learned from this is remarkable. In the times of the Mikdash, anyone who pleased to become a Nazir, was able to do so. As long as people were willing to abstain from the various required activities, they could elevate themselves to the status of a Kohein. From this juxtaposition between the Parshiyot of Sotah and Nazir, we see how Hashem gives us amazing opportunities to commit and elevate ourselves in order to strengthen our connection and closeness to Him.

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