November 16, 2018

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Nasso with Rabbi Rona Shapiro

Our guest this week is Rabbi Rona Shapiro, leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge, Connecticut. Rabbi Shapiro began tenure as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob in 2013. Prior to that she lived in Cleveland, where she served for four years as the rabbi of Congregation Bethaynu and for two years as a rabbi at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation after Bethaynu merged with B’nai Jeshurun. Before that, she served as Senior Associate of Ma'yan: the Jewish Women's Project in New York (2000-2007) and Executive Director of Berkeley Hillel (1990-2000). Rabbi Shapiro was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1990, among the early women graduates. She has written and published numerous articles, is the founding editor of the website,, and a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Shapiro spent two years studying in Israel at the Pardes Institute prior to her ordination. She received her BA, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, from Harvard University.

This Week's Torah Portion – Parashat Nasso (Numbers 4:21-7:89) – begins with the completion of the head count of the people of Israel. God then gives Moses instructions concerning the purification of the camp, 'wayward wives' (wives which are suspected of being unfaithful to her husband) Nezirim (Jewish ascetics who take a vow to devote themselves to God), and the priestly Blessings. Toward the end of the parasha the tabernacle is consecrated and the chieftains of the different tribes bring their offerings. Our talk focuses on the Nazir, the Sotah (wayward wife), and the urge to engage in extreme behaviour and lifestyles.

Our past talks about Nasso:

Rabbi Mark Borovitz on learning from ascetics and wayward wives

Rabbi Josh Feigelson on the importance of community building

Rabbi Abraham Cooper on the otherness of the Nazir