This Shabbos, we read Parshas Naso. The word naso means “lift up.” This meaning is very important, because Parshas Naso is always read before or after the holiday of Shavuos, the day on which HaShem “lifts up” the Jewish people.

What is the connection between Shavuos and Naso, “lifting up”? The Talmud tells us that on Shavuos, Rav Yosef, one of our people’s greatest sages, would hold a big celebration and explain to his guests why he felt so happy. “If it were not for that day,” Rav Yosef would say, speaking about the giving of the Torah on Shavuos, “How many Yosefs would there be in the marketplace?”

What did Rav Yosef mean?

Rashi explains: “If it were not for the day on which I studied the Torah and became uplifted... behold, there are many people in the street named Yosef. What difference would there be between me and them?”

Rav Yosef was telling us that studying Torah uplifts us and makes us special. He mentioned the marketplace, because the market is a lot like the world around us.

In a marketplace, there are many separate shops and stores, each one doing business for itself, without a connection to any other. In the market, everyone is busy, eagerly trying to make a profit.

Our world is also made up of many, many different things. Like the different shops in the market, they look like they are separate and exist without being connected to HaShem. Our neshamos are sent down to this market, to “do business” and “make a profit” in this world.

What kind of “business” does our neshamah do?

Buying and selling means transferring an item from one person’s possession to another’s. Who is the buyer and who is the seller when the neshamah does business? Let’s take an apple, for example. What we see is a piece of fruit growing on a tree — it looks like a regular part of nature. But when a Jew makes a berachah on the apple, the holiness of HaShem which is in the fruit becomes revealed. It’s as if the apple is now being transferred into HaShem’s possession.

And just like the hustle and bustle in the marketplace, our neshamos are busy and excited about doing “business” here, transferring the worldly things around us into HaShem’s possession.

What made it possible for us to do this type of business? The giving of the Torah. The Torah gives each one of us the chance to do mitzvos and bring HaShem’s holiness into the world.

This is what Rashi meant when he said the Torah lifts us up. Because instead of running around the marketplace doing our own business, we are now doing business for HaShem, making the world into a dwelling for Him.

(Adapted from Sefer HaSichos 5750, p. 493ff)