Our Torah portion this week, Nasso, describes the somewhat unusual lifestyle choices of a Nazarite. A Nazarite takes a vow of holiness, abstains from drinking Alcohol, cutting their hair, and coming into contact with the dead. The vow is for a predetermined finite amount of time. Through abstaining from these things, the Nazarite is supposed to feel more closely and spiritually connected to God.
Despite this vow of abstention and holiness, it seems peculiar that after the successful completion of the vow, the Nazarite had to offer a sin offering. But according to the Midrash, while the abstention is supposed to breed holiness, it actually breeds affliction as well. It suggests that the Nazarite could actually be considered a sinner "
because he afflicted himself through the abstention from wine. If one who afflicted himself only in respect of wine is called a sinner, how much more so one who ascetically refrains from all pleasures."
For a variety of different reasons we may choose to take a break, or abstain from certain pleasures, so that we can clear our heads or get our minds back on track. Nevertheless, I think it's important that we remember we deserve the opportunity to enjoy and indulge every once in a while as well. We all connect to God in different ways, some by abstention, others by indulging, and I hope that this Shabbat and beyond, we all continue to support each other, as we experiment with new ways of connecting with God and enjoying each other's presence.
Wishing you all a