This week’s Parsha is Parshas Naso. The Parsha contains the episode of the laws of an unfaithful wife. Right after the Torah talks about that, and the punishment she gets, the Torah talks about the nazir – the person who makes a vow not to partake of any wine. Why are the two laws put next to each other? What is the connection between the nazir and the unfaithful wife?
Rashi quotes the words of our Sages who say that the Torah is hinting to us that whoever sees a Sotah, the unfaithful wife, when she is punished, should stay away from wine, which is a cause for immoral behavior.
The question is raised, if someone is seeing the Sotah, – the unfaithful wife, being punished, isn’t that enough to prevent him from doing a sin? Why does he need to also take the action of staying away from wine? Isn’t the fact that he sees how strong the punishment for doing this is, enough of a force to prevent him from ever doing such a sin?
Rav Eliezer Shach explained that if a person doesn’t make a real change in deed when they are aroused to, although they may have all the understanding that they should change, they will never do so. When they are once again in a situation of challenge, they will easily fall. Only if a person responds to a situation with an actual concrete improvement in their behavior, can we hope they will withstand the temptation the next time they come across it.
An example of this is described by the famed Alter of Slabodka. A philosopher was once faced with the challenges of having a father who was a drunkard. One day, he saw a drunkard wallowing in the street. He was surrounded by what he himself had thrown up. The philosopher was very excited with the opportunity he had to show his father the terrible effects of drinking. He brought his father to watch this drunkard as he would observe how disgraceful drinking leaves someone. Imagine the dismay of this philosopher, when he heard his father lean over to the drunkard and ask him, “so tell me, where did you manage to get such strong whiskey”?
This is the challenge we are faced with as we try to become better people. If we don’t make real changes, as small as they might be, we are left with the very real possibility that we may just come back and repeat our mistake a second time. The Nazir teaches us that to improve we must take steps to make real and lasting choices in our life.