We gain from giving, not taking.
Parshas Naso, the longest sidrah in the Torah, contains a wide variety of topics and mitzvos, and the commentators work hard to explain the connection between successive topics. There are many lessons to be learned from the Torah’s juxtapositions.
One of this week’s larger narratives is about the sotah, a woman accused of infidelity. She and her husband must remain separate until the truth can be ascertained through a miraculous – and potentially tragic – “drinking game” in the Beis HaMikdash. On a very different note, immediately preceding this topic, the Torah discusses the obligation to give tithes to the kohanim, and the Torah emphasizes that one must fulfill his monetary obligations.
Rashi (BaMidbar 5:12) explains the connection between these two subjects: The Torah is teaching us that one who fails to visit the kohen with his required donations will eventually have to suffer the consequence of visiting the kohen with his wife to deal with the horrible ordeal of sotah.
This may explain the order of verses, but it doesn’t really address the causal or thematic connection between the two sins. Why should a person’s failure to give t’rumah lead to his wife’s alleged unfaithfulness?
The Torah T’mimah explains that a person who is generally stingy and unwilling to provide for others will inevitably start to treat his family in a similar manner. Financial dishonesty and deception may begin with the express intention of bringing home more money for one’s own family, but as time wears on, a selfish person becomes selfish with his loved ones, as well. By habitually robbing his religious leaders of their expected dues, he is exhibiting both a lack of appreciation, as well as a strong stench of greed. Such attitudes and behaviors do not stop at the threshold of one’s home for long. Soon, he will neglect to provide the deserved love, attention, and support to his spouse, as well.
Such mistreatment creates a severe strain on shalom bayis, and serious marital issues are certain to follow. If she is truly guilty of an affair, it is, in part, because her husband drove her away with his selfishness. And even if she is exonerated by the waters, the very fact that their relationship is fraught with secrecy, suspicion, and mistrust is symptomatic of a deeper issue. Either way, the root of the couple’s strife is the underlying malady of miserly attitudes and behaviors, rather than the love and giving necessary to sustain a healthy relationship.
By connecting Sotah to Matnos Kehunah, the Torah is teaching us a critical lesson about the foundation of a successful marriage and, by extension, any relationship. Those who believe that they are gaining by withholding and hoarding for themselves are really just stockpiling discord and loneliness. By contrast, it is those who share selflessly who end up with the most. After all, it takes an attitude of giving to amass a wealth of love and friendship.