Nasso means “count”—describing the instruction that God gave Moses to “count” or “lift the head” of the Levite families of Gershon. Nasso is the longest portion in the Torah, containing 176 verses. Interestingly, the longest Psalm is Psalm 119, and it also contains 176 verses.
This portion deals with the laws of the nazir—an individual who would dedicate a certain amount of time (or even a lifetime) to God, during which he/she would separate him/herself from worldly matters and strive for holiness. The very word nazir means “separate” or “set apart.”
All the days of his Naziriteship he is holy unto the Lord.
(JPS 1917, Num. 6:8)
During his/her Nazarite period, the individual would abstain from drinking wine or grape products, from cutting his/her hair, and from coming in contact with the dead. It was a time period of spiritual elevation, during which the individual could focus on serving God. At the end of the nazir’s vow period, he/she was to bring special offerings to the Temple.