Parshas Nasso is the longest parsha in the Torah by pasuk count. As you might expect, it contains some of the most famous topics in the Torah. Among them is the laws of a Nazir, a person who commits himself (or herself) to an extra level of holiness for 30 days by not drinking wine, not taking a haircut, and by not becoming tamei mes, impure as a result of coming into contact with a dead body.
The purpose of becoming a Nazir is to propel yourself to higher levels of kedushah; the Kli Yakar discusses how abstaining from drinking wine helps with this process. The first idea comes from the laws of Kohanim. The Torah tells us that a Kohen is not allowed to drink wine before working in the Beis Hamikdash. The next pasuk tells us the reason, “וּֽלֲהַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ וּבֵ֣ין הַחֹ֑ל” “To distinguish between the holy and mundane” (Vayikra 10:10). If abstaining from wine is meant to help distinguish between holy and mundane, the Torah seems to indicate that partaking in wine clouds your judgment in deciding what actions are considered holy. Therefore, a Nazir, who is trying to follow a holier path, should abstain from wine to help keep that path clear.
The second idea looks beyond the 30 day period of Nezirus. The idea of becoming a Nazir is to springboard into maintaining a higher level of kedushah in your life even after you are finished with the initial 30 days. You may not remain on the same level as when you were a Nazir, but the hope is that some of the spirituality remains and you become a more spiritual person than when you began. Wine is one of the basic and most common forms of pleasure in the physical world (even more so in those times when it was the main drink at every meal). It doesn’t do any good if immediately after you stop being a Nazir that you return to the same level of physicality you enjoyed beforehand! The idea of not drinking wine is to remove a basic physical pleasures for a month as a “training” exercise, allowing you to attempt to remove additional, even more vital physical pleasures after the Nezirus period ends.
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