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Thursday, Sivan 10, 5782 / June 9, 2022


This Shabbat is the first Shabbat after the holiday of Shavuot. From the Torah we read Parshat Naso, the second Parsha in the book of Numbers (Bamidbar). In Israel Parshat Beha’alotcha is read.


Parshat Naso is the longest Parsha in the Torah. It contains 176 verses. On an interesting note, the longest chapter in Psalms (Tehillim) also contains 176 verses and the longest Tractate of the Talmud, Baba Batra, has 176 pages.


Each Shabbat, between Pesach and Rosh Hashana, we recite the Pirkei Avot (Chapters of our Fathers), which we conclude with the saying of Rabbi Chanania son of Akashia, “The Holy one, blessed is He, wished to confer merit upon Israel; therefore, He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundance."


In the Torah there are 613 mitzvot.


The Talmud explains that the mitzvot are divided in two general categories. There are 248 "Mitzvot Aseh" - positive commandments (Mitzvot that require actions like giving charity; putting on Tefillin, etc.). Then there are 365 commandments which are prohibitions (Do not steal, etc.). Together they make up 613.   


G-d gave us Torah and mitzvot in abundance for our benefit. With so many mitzvot, there will be some mitzvot which each person can perform to perfection.


We must be careful not to change the mitzvot to make it easier for us and make them conform to our standards. Rather,we must raise ourselves to the standard of the mitzvot, which is G-d’s wish.


The following parable of the Magid of Dubna explains this point. A general once toured his training camps to check his soldiers' level of readiness. In one of the camps, the soldiers were shooting arrows at targets. Upon observing closely, he noticed that one of the soldier's arrows were all in the center of the target. The general was very impressed.


"You are a great marksman!  How did you manage to get every arrow exactly in the center?" the general asked with amazement.


“That's easy," the soldier replied. "The other soldiers first set up their target, then they try to hit it. I, on the other hand, first shoot my arrows, only after, do I place the target around them. Thus, I never miss..."


G-d gave us many mitzvot so that we can constantly aim for perfection at some of them. He even commanded us to perform mitzvot which we would understand on our own without being commanded, in order that we may be rewarded for them. But it is far better to aim at the Divine targets, even if we miss a few, rather than create our own targets in order to fool ourselves into feeling satisfied and accomplished.