In this week’s Torah reading, among seemingly unconnected teachings – after the ritual for dealing with a man in a jealous rage who suspects his wife of adultery and before the profound priestly blessing – we learn about the Nazarite.
These three teachings offer ideas about dealing with things that have gone awry. Jealousy and suspicion can take a healthy relationship into extremes of difficulty. The priests had to cope with the stresses of people in challenging situations, like those who had to make amends for crimes and others who had mysterious skin conditions, to name just two.
The person taking Nazirite vows understood that life reached a point when a break was needed. The Nazirte vow created a break from the past marked by a period of abstinence from grape products and letting one’s hair grow.
How do we deal with life when things veer off course?
The practice of the Nazirite can remind us that we must acknowledge when things have gotten to be too much. The Nazirite model teaches us to reflect and step back, to avoid mind-altering substances like wine, and then re-approach carefully after some time separated from our challenge.
Being out of sorts is normal. Figuring out how to get back to normal isn’t always easy. The idea of the Nazirite might help.