Orderly Conduct: Naso 2023
Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever regretted following someone else’s orders? What were the consequences of your compliance?
An apparent redundancy in the Torah text indicates our ancestors’ willingness to do as God says:
The Pitch: “The Israelites did so, putting [people with the skin affliction tzara’at] outside the camp; as יהוה had spoken to Moses, so the Israelites did.” – Numbers 5:4
Swing #1: “Why does the Torah say again at the end of the verse ‘so the Israelites did’? Not only did [the Children of Israel] fulfill the letter of the law by ‘putting them outside the camp,’ but they also acted in accordance with the spirit of the law, keeping away from the sins that cause leprosy, foul discharge and death. ‘As יהוה had spoken to Moses, so the Israelites did;’ that is, they acted in keeping with the purpose for which God had given them the commandment.” – Binah Le’Ittim
Swing #2: “This verse expresses compliance. … It was also important to make the point that all of the details of law and ritual prescribed in the Torah came directly from God, through Moses.” – Baruch A. Levine, Numbers 1-20
Swing #3: “There was no difficulty from the point of view of those who had to command the metzora’im to go outside the Israelite camp, and that did not require warning. The difficulty might have been only from the perspective of the metzora’im, who had to be asked to leave the Cloud of Glory, and perhaps an argument would arise. However, the metzora’im accepted this command with joy, to attain atonement for their sin. Thus, it was not as if they harkened to a warning, but rather as if they easily fulfilled the word of God as well.” – Meshekh Chokhmah
Late-Inning Questions: Why do our commentators think that the Israelites are so willing to comply with God’s request, especially since the Israelites have no problem defying God at other times? Are you skeptical that the Israelites are as enthusiastic as our commentators think? Is it better to practice civil disobedience or uncivil obedience?
On-Deck at TBT: June is Pride month, and TBT will celebrate Pride Shabbat Saturday, June 24th. Our guest speaker will be Jack Kavanaugh, Executive Director of Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of Buffalo, NY. Plus, enjoy rainbow challah at kiddush!
The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of following orders – or not following them – I have fond memories of watching a Cleveland game in July 1999 in which Alex Ramirez was supposed to play right field and Manny Ramirez was supposed to be the designated hitter. But Manny, being Manny, ran out to right field for the first inning, which caused Cleveland to lose their DH and forced starting pitcher Charles Nagy to bat sixth in the batting order. That might have been the crucial factor leading to their 4-3 loss to Toronto.