It’s hard to be spiritual in a material world. Our possessions come to possess us; we can’t put down our smartphones or that last piece of chocolate cake. We can spend years working to achieve success in a career, in a relationship or in any other worthy pursuit, and then throw it all away for a foolish, temporary temptation.

So how do we achieve harmony in our Our possessions possess uslives? How do we get to a place where there is no conflict between our spiritual goals and our physical needs?

In the portion of Naso, the Torah teaches us how to move from spiritual folly to inner peace. It does so by describing three laws: 1) the “wayward woman”; 2) the nazirite; 3) the priestly blessing, which concludes with the blessing for peace.

First the Torah describes the law of the “wayward woman.” The Hebrew word for “wayward” (sotah) is related to the word for “foolishness” (shtut). The Talmud states, “A person does not commit a transgression unless the spirit of folly enters him.” Thus, the sotah personifies the person who acts against his or her better judgment as a result of great temptation.

To discover how to overcome the state of the sotah, we look to the next portion, the portion of the nazirite, which when understood correctly is the secret to achieving the inner spiritual harmony described in the priestly blessing.

The nazirite—the man or woman who takes a vow to temporarily refrain from drinking wine, cutting hair and becoming ritually impure—is referred to as “holy.” Yet, paradoxically, the Torah teaches that at the conclusion of the nazirite period he or she must offer a sin offering. This implies that although the choice to become a nazirite was the right choice for that person at that specific time, and thus a holy choice, the nazirite way of life is not the preferred one.1

In Torah’s ideal model of holiness, the human being engages with the physical world and imbues it with spirituality, creating peace between body and soul. But occasionally, in order to achieve this ideal state of holiness, a person may have to take the path of the nazirite. If one wants to ensure that he is in control, that the wine, The human imbues the physical world with spiritualitychocolate cake or smartphone will indeed enhance his spiritual life, then sometimes he first has to disengage. He has to demonstrate that he can survive for a period of time without dependence on the specific material possession.

After refraining from drinking wine for 30 days, the nazirite can return to the consumption of wine while still maintaining his holiness. Through undergoing the process of the nazirite, one can be holy while engaged in the world. He can use his possessions as tools to attain his spiritual goals, not detract from them.

The Torah provides the roadmap to journey from sotah to nazirite to the priestly blessing—from folly to control to peace and harmony.