Rabbi Yonah Burr
Naso: The Power of Restraint
דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם איש או אשה כי יפלא לנדר נדר נזיר להזיר לד'
Speak to the Children of Israel, and say to them: any man or woman when they- יפלא - articulate a vow, to become a Nazir to Hashem.
The word להפלא which Rashi translates to mean ‘articulate’ is a strange word indeed. Seemingly, the Torah could have used a more common word such as פירש or קיבל which would mean to say or accept.
The Even Ezra offers a beautiful interpretation: the word actually comes from the word פלא which means ‘wonder’. “If a man or woman does a wonderous thing, i.e., accepts upon themselves to abstain from the pleasures of this world”. The Torah itself expresses wonder and amazement at the person’s ability to do this.
Rav Yeruchem Levovitz z”l’ the Mashgiach of the Mir Yeshiva during the war years and beyond, points out- “look how far we can be from the truth of the Torah”. Very often, when someone has a bad habit, or is involved in something that he shouldn’t be, he rationalizes that it isn’t so bad, and besides, I can kick this habit or stop this destructive behavior whenever I like; right now, I enjoy how thing are, but I am in control and can stop as soon as I want to.
The Torah, which truly understands how bad destructive behavior is, and truly understands how entrenched we can get in our ways, expresses amazement at our ability to rise above, while a person himself doesn’t appreciate what strength it will take to improve.
But Hashem gives us the tools and ability to elevate ourselves! The gemara relates that a certain person once noticed his reflection in a pond of water. He saw his curly hair, and handsome appearance and was very impressed with himself. Immediately he felt the Yetzer Hara tempting him to sin, so he accepted upon himself the Nazirus vow. “This very hair, these curls, that are causing me to sin, I hereby dedicate them to Hashem by becoming a Nazir!” When Rav Shimon HaTzaddik heard this, he kissed the man on his head.
Exclaims Rav Yeruchem, look how holy we can become! The very hair that was considered a vehicle of the Yetzer Hara now became sanctified and has Kedusha! Every step we take, every spiritual battle we engage in, transforms what was temptation, into holiness.
May we each have the ability to rise above our own challenges, and continue growing in our Avodas Hashem creating Kedusha and Ruchniyos every step of the way!
Have a wonderful Shabbos