By: Alexa Szafranski (11th Grade)
The name of this week’s Parsha is Parshat Naso, and this name has many meanings. The word Naso can mean three things: to lift, to carry, or to forgive. However here, as well as other points during Bnei Yisrael’s time in the desert, we see the word Naso used in conjunction with the phrase Et Rosh (the head). When you put this phrase with Naso, it is referring to the action of counting the people by saying “Lift their heads.” Why is the phrase of “lift their heads” used, why not use the other words that mean to count like Limnot, Lispor, Lifkod, or Lachsov? Why do we need the reference to the head when a simple verb would have sufficed?
The answer to these questions can be found through one of the most fundamental Jewish beliefs. We all believe as G-d’s people, that he created us Betzalmo- in his image. If we are all created in his image, then we are all beyond value and each a special individual. No two people are the exact same; we are all unique. This Jewish ideal shows us that we are interdependent on Hashem, while also being independent of him- like a parent and a child.
There is a fine line between self-confidence and haughtiness, and here Hashem is trying to show us that. The way we should approach this difficulty can be seen by the Hassidic master Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Przysucha. He said that we should live our life with two pockets. One pocket should have the words “For my sake was the world created” and in the other should be the words “I am but dust and ashes.” We are all special, no one of us are the same, but at the end of the day we are all from nothing. We need to acknowledge that any greatness we accumulate is not from us, but from Hashem.
The takeaway from this is that it not important how we see ourselves, but how we see and treat other people. The world does not lack self-important people, but it does lack people who can “life their heads” and make people realize their importance.
In using this language, the Torah is telling that we must lift people up to help them realize their true worth. We need to let people know we do not take them for granted and we appreciate what they do for us. Especially in difficult times like these, we need to appreciate the people working non-stop to keep the country safe. Because at the end of the day, we are only as important as we make other people feel.