Above and Beyond
Poor bar mitzva boy! If Parshas Nasso is your sedra, it’s the longest single sedra in the whole Torah. A whopping 176 pessukim. (The truth is the repetition of pesukim with the nesi’im bringing identical korbonos does make it easier!)
It is striking to note that the longest chapter in the whole of Sefer Tehillim (and also the longest chapter in all of Tanach) also has 176 pesukim.
Which masechta in Shas has the most dafim? Bava Basra. How many? Again, the masechta finishes on daf 176.
There must be an explanation to all this. What is special about the number 176 and why is this the magic number for the longest sedra in the Torah, the longest chapter in Tanach and the longest masechta in Torah Shel Bal Peh?
Tehillim 119 follows the sequence of the Hebrew alphabet. The first 8 pesukim begin with the letter א, the next 8 with the letter ב and so on until the final 8 pesukim of the chapter which begin with the letter ת.
When a chapter follows the sequence of the Hebrew alphabet, it connotes a totality, an all-encompassing picture, from א to ת.
The number 7 represents this world, which was created in 7 days. Chazal say that the number 8 alludes to the World to Come. The number 8 represents something beyond this world; a dimension which transcends nature and physicality. This is of course Torah.
Perhaps the message is this. All of Torah transcends this world. תורה שבכתב and תורה שבעל פה are beyond the natural and are essentially spiritual. So are the soaring emotions, petitions and praises of Hashem that is Sefer Tehillim.
And a timely message straight after Shavuos, when we re-accept the Torah and when parshas Nasso invariably falls.
May we merit to impart the beauty and depth of Torah to our students and show them the transcendent, elevated nature of Torah.