Eco Rabbi on Parshat Naso: Nazir – Making Changes in Our Lives

When attempting to incorporate new elements and habits into our life what is the best way to do this? If I want to be greener, how do I go about doing it? If I want to be friendlier, how do I add this to my life?

In this week’s Weekly Bible segment the laws of the Nazir are discussed. The Nazir is a person who decides to accept upon himself a higher spiritual level. He may feel that he has been slipping, or just wants more spirituality in his life. He then will commit himself to be a Nazir for a specific time period during which he will refrain from all grape products, cutting any body hair and avoid anything that is spiritually impure. At the end of this period the Nazir brings an offering, including a sin offering in the temple and shaves all of the hair from his body.

The Nazir is considered an extremist. The question is asked: why does the Nazir brings a sin offering at the end of his time as a Nazir? One answer brought is that even though he is striving to reach a higher level of spirituality, the commandments are meant to help us enhance our lives, not escape from them. After the Nazir completes his period as a Nazir he does exactly what he was avoiding, he cuts his hair. And then he brings a sin offering to remind himself that he has to live in the world, and not live out of it.

When incorporating elements into our lives we can learn from the Nazir. I will use the greening your life example to illustrate this:

-Live in this world. The Nazir brings a sin offering for cutting himself out of it. Even though it is for his spiritual benefit. When incorporating green, see how you can make the transition as organic as possible. Don’t cut yourself off from people or things you love. You’ll just end up resenting – whether it’s everyone who doesn’t do as you do, or your new actions for cutting you off from what you love.

– Try for a set time period, or a small goal. If you set small goals for yourself it is easier to change habits. And every little bit helps. A day of no electricity, instead of cutting it out altogether. Or once a week riding to work on your bike for a month, instead of all the time. When you reach your goal celebrate and then set a new one.

Change is a battle that can be won. Just remember that alcoholics call themselves alcoholics as long as they live, even if they haven’t had a drink in several decades. Change is hard and enjoy your successes.

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