Parashas Naso, curiously enough, discusses the word נשא in various forms. We have the word נשא itself, meaning to uplift. Further on in the parasha we learn about Bircas Kohanim, where the Kohanim bless the people with the words יִשָּׂא יְ-הֹ-ו-ָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, may HaShem lift His countenance to you. Following this the Torah elaborates on the offerings of the נשיאים, the princes of the tribes. Clearly there is a lesson here that we can learn from.
Interpersonal relationships are never easy. People get insulted, stop communicating with one another, and even at times enter into family disputes and mud-slinging. Why do people engage in such behavior? Often it is because of people’s arrogance, as they feel they are so high and mighty that no one has a right to offend them. While we must take care never to offend anyone, no matter what our relationship with that person is, we must also ensure that we are always forgiving, unless the Halacha does not permit us to forgive. How many relationships have been destroyed and how many families broken apart because of careless words? There are well-known stories of Jewish leaders who attempted to make peace between sworn enemies, and when these adversaries were questioned as to the nature of their dispute, they responded, “I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I’m sure that it was because of something significant.”
The Torah teaches us in this parasha that even the great נשיאים, the princes of the tribes, waited until the last moment to donate to the Mishkan and they were criticized for this seemingly laziness. Their punishment was that they lost the letter yud from their name. The letter yud is the smallest of the letters, teaching the princes that one must always remain humble and willing to do whatever it takes to contribute to the community.
In a similar vein, the commentators write that the words in the beginning of the parasha נָשֹׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ בְּנֵי גֵרְשׁוֹן גַּם הֵם, take a census of the sons of Gershon, as well, can be interpreted to mean: lift up even the ones who have been banished. This teaches us that every Jew has great worth, and we must never abandon a Jew in distress. Furthermore, we must acknowledge our own worth and never feel that we are not worthy of contributing to the community.
This, then, is the meaning of the words that the Kohanim bless the People with. יִשָּׂא יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, may HaShem lift His countenance to you. If we “lift our countenance” to others, i.e. respect them and show them that we value them, then Hashem will surely lift His Holy Countenance to us and bless us with everything we need.
HaShem should elevate us and allow us to elevate others!
Have an Elevated Shabbos!