Parshat Nasso Summary

Parshat Nasso is the second parsha in Sefer Bamidbar (also known as Numbers).

This parsha is verses Bamidbar 4:21 – 7:89, for a total of 176 verses. This makes Nasso the longest parsha in the Torah.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

Aliyah 1: Bamidbar 4:21 – 4:37, 17 verses

Parshat Nasso begins where Bamidbar ended. As you will recall, the last aliyah in Parshat Bamidbar recounted the work of the family of Kohat in the Mishkan / Tabernacle.

Nasso begins with the work of the family of Gershon in the Mishkan. When the Mishkan moves they are to carry the curtains, the covers, the screen at the entrance, and other small items.

Last is the family of Merari. Their job is to carry planks of the Mishkan, the bars, pillars, and sockets. Also they carry the supporting ropes and pegs.

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Aliyah 2: Bamidbar 4:38 – 4:49, 12 verses

In Parshat Bamidbar we were told the census of the tribe of Levi from one month and up. However, only the Levites from ages 30 up to 50 were assigned to do the carrying.

This aliyah gives us the census by family of the working-age males:

Kehat – 2,750 (actually from the last 4 verses of Aliyah #1)

Gershon – 2,630

Merari – 3,200

Total – 8,580

Aliyah 3: Bamidbar 5:1 – 5:10, 10 verses

The first 4 verses of this short aliyah describe the “purification of the camp.” Male and female Jews who were tamei (contaminated) by tzaraat, zav (genital emission), or a corpse were required to leave the camp. These afflictions were described in Parshat Tzaria and Parshat Metzora.

The last 6 verses of the aliyah relate that a person who steals must confess their sin and make restitution. The restitution is to repay the principal plus an additional one fifth.

Aliyah 4: Bamidbar 5:11 – 6:27, 48 verses

Verses 5:11 – 5:31 This aliyah begins with the laws of the sotah. The sotah is a married woman whose behavior has lead her husband to suspect her of adultery. She and her husband come to the Mishkan / Tabernacle (later the Beit Hamikdash / Temple).

If she does not confess to adultery, she is made to drink the bitter waters. If she is guilty, then the bitter waters will kill her and the man she sinned with.

Verses 6:1 – 6:21 These verses describe the laws of the Nazirite. This is a man or a woman who takes a vow to separate themselves from some normal activities to be more dedicated to God.

Nazirite no wine no grapes

The Nazirite may not eat or drink grapes or anything that comes from grapes, may not cut his hair, and may not become tamei for the dead (even a close relative). The minimum period for being a Nazirite is 30 days.

At the conclusion of the Nazirite period he brings a burnt offering, a sin offering, a peace offering, and a basket of unleavened loaves.

Verses 6:22 – 6:27 This long aliyah ends with the mitzvah for the priests to bless the Jewish people.

Aliyah 5: Bamidbar 7:1 – 7:41, 41 verses

According to Jewish tradition many unique things happened on the 1st day of Nissan, the day the Tabernacle was erected. One of those events was the tribal leaders presenting a gift of 6 wagons and 12 oxen. God instructed Moses to give the wagons to the Levites for their work of transporting the Tabernacle.

The tribal leaders also informed Moses that they had dedication offerings they wanted to bring.

They all brought the same offering:

  • a silver bowl weighing 130 shekels
  • a silver basin weighing 70 shekels
  • a gold ladle weighing 10 shekels
  • burnt offerings: 1 young bull, 1 ram, 1 sheep
  • sin offering: 1 male goat
  • peace offerings: 2 cows, 5 rams, 5 male goats, 5 sheep

Even though they brought the same physical offerings, each tribal leader had his own intentions and rationales for his choices.

God instructed Moses that each leader should bring his offering on a different day. They started in this order according to their tribes:

  • 1. Judah
  • 2. Issachar
  • 3. Zebulun
  • 4. Reuben
  • 5. Simeon

Aliyah 6: Bamidbar 7:42 – 7:71, 30 verses

Here are the next set of tribal leaders and the day they brought their offerings:

  • 6. Gad
  • 7. Ephraim
  • 8. Manasseh
  • 9. Benjamin
  • 10. Dan

Aliyah 7: Bamidbar 7:72 – 7:89, 18 verses

The last two tribes to bring their offering were:

  • 11. Asher
  • 12. Naftali

As you can see, the tribe of Levi is not included in this list. Thus there should have been only 11 tribes bringing their offerings.

However, the tribe of Joseph is counted as two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. This keeps that the total number of tribes at 12.

The Torah then gives the total amounts in each category of these 12 special offerings.

Haftarah Summary

Judges 13:2 – 25

An angel appears to the parents of Samson. He tells them that Samson is to be a nazirite from the day of his birth.

Further Reading

Here’s another article based on Parshat Nasso: The Priestly Blessing

A Note on the Translations
The translation of Bible verses is based on the Judaica Press Tanach.
The translation of Gemara is based on the Soncino Talmud.
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