In ancient Israel society, if an individual Israelite (man or woman) who was not part of the priestly caste wanted to live a more holy life and have a deeper spiritual connection to God, he/she could take the vow of the Nazirite.  The individual Israelite would make a vow to God for a finite period of time to avoid contact with a corpse, grow long hair, and abstain from all intoxicating drinks or grape products.   During this period, the person served in the sanctuary in consecration to God.  We learn about the laws of the Nazirite, in this week’s Torah parashah, Naso. There is differing opinion about the motivations of the Nazirite in rabbinic literature.  Some suggest that the Nazirite is someone who has trouble controlling impulses and therefore has to place restrictions on his/her behavior beyond what a normal person would do. But the majority of are of the opinion that the Nazirite is someone who voluntarily takes on this strict religious regimen out of a desire to serve God.  More important than trying to decipher the motivation of the Nazirite, is the mere fact that such a ritual was even possible in the first place.  In a religion that was almost entirely practiced through the performance of sacrifices, administered by the priests, it is quite noteworthy that it was possible for any average Israelite, man or woman, to further their own spiritual practice in service to God by taking this special vow.  The ritual of the Nazirite is an example of the accessibility of Judaism to every person, a reminder that ones heredity, inheritance, or personal status does not deny one the ability to have a special relationship with God and live a spiritually fulfilling life.  We are all created in the image of God and no Jew is more important than any other in the eyes of God. This holds true even more today than in ancient times.  While education and study may qualify someone to be a rabbi or cantor, Judaism teaches that all human beings are equal, and nobody has special status above anyone else.  There are always opportunities for individuals to increase their spiritual practice and relationship with God, not by abstaining from worldly pleasures, but now by participating in Jewish life through education, social action, worship, and more.  Let’s all take advantage of this great opportunity and freedom we enjoy as Jews.