Which Path to Take? – Parshat Naso
When Alice was in Wonderland and she wasn’t sure which path to take, she asked the Cheshire cat which way she ought to go. The cat asked her where she wanted to go. Her answer was "somewhere". The cat's famous answer was that as long as you're moving, you'll get somewhere.1
In this week's parsha, Parshat Naso, we read that the Nazir, the ascete, needs to bring a sin offering when he comes into contact with a corpse during his period of abstinence.2 Rashi quotes two opinions why he needs to bring a sin offering. After all, there is no apparent sin. It is not a sin to be caught unawares with a corpse. One opinion is that he could have been more careful to not be in the proximity of even a potential corpse. His lack of precaution is sinful in his state of asceticism. The second opinion is that he brings a sin offering because he chose to be abstinent from wine in the first place. Choosing not to have pleasure is enough of a reason to warrant the need for forgiveness through the bringing of a sin offering. Chazal go further stating that any other abstinence would certainly be considered more stringent.
It is interesting to note the different approaches. On the one hand, the nazir is reproached for not being careful enough. The other opinion is that he is being too careful, abstaining from even permitted foods. Yet they are both examples of people finding their own way. Two different approaches to reaching a higher level of spirituality – abstinence and use.
Which is the right way? It depends on the person and the situation. And only you can decide for yourself. Each of us has their own path to meaning in life.3 We need to search for it and find it. Do what we like and take advantage of the moment while continuing to work towards more loftier goals.
The paths may even seem diametrically opposed. One leading to a life of abstinence and one to moderate indulgence( wouldn’t want to harm our health). And both can be legitimate – we get to decide. How empowering that choice can be!
Which path will you take?
Have A Great Shabbat!