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Nasso 5768

By: Rav Yonatan Horovitz

Parshat Naso – Rav Yonatan Horovitz It is well known that this week's parsha, Naso, is the longest in the Torah. This is based on the fact that it contains 176 pesukim, more than any other individual parsha. This status, however, is somewhat misleading as the second half of the parsha is extremely repetitive. What makes this parsha so long is the listing, twelve times over, of the korbanot brought by the nesi'im at the dedication of the Mishkan. Though the nesi'im of each tribe brought the exact same contribution, a combination of sacrifices and utensils for use in the mishkan, the Torah lists every nasi with his korban. In addition, the Torah provides us with a summary of the contributions made, thereby relieving us of the need to do the mathematics! As one would expect, many commentaries relate to this repetition and why it was important to the Torah to devote 89 pesukim to the "korbanot hanesi'im". (Incidentally, this is the longest chapter in the Torah.) Chazal in Bamidbar Rabba, explain the order of the tribes in this chapter and in so doing the midrash tells us of the uniqueness of each tribe: Yehuda's sacrifice symbolized monarchy, Yissachar's the Torah and the sacrifice of Binyamin was in honor of the matriarch, Rachel. In a similar way, the midrash states that the sacrifice of each tribe alluded to an aspect of their particular tribal identity. Ramban interprets the repetition as conveying the individual intention of each nasi. Though outwardly each sacrifice brought was actually identical, each one was brought with a different idea in mind. For this reason the Torah lists each sacrifice thus emphasizing that the korban itself is a mere physical manifestation of an inner connection to God. This closeness to Hashem can be experienced and felt in different ways by each person. So too as the nesi'im brought their korbanot each envisaged his own intention thereby infusing the same animals and vessels with a personal or tribal experience. Seforno too, states that each nasi brought the korban in order to atone for the sins of his tribe. In this way, there existed something unique to each offering and so they are all recorded in full. The above quoted explanations do not address whether the nesi'im intended to all bring the exact same korbanot or whether it turned out that way. Abarbanel explains that the nesi'im decided together to bring the exact same korban. The reason for this was to ensure that this positive gesture of bringing offerings at the dedication of the mishkan should not turn into a source of "kina, ga'ava vehitpa'arut" jealousy, pride and self aggrandizement. An obvious example of animosity caused as a result of different korbanot is the case of Kayin and Hevel. One could argue that in that case the difference was in their intention or their lifestyles rather than the actual korban but the result was still disastrous. The nesi'im, in a demonstration of selflessness and achdut elected to all bring the exact same sacrifices and contributions to the mishkan. Abarbanel explains that for this reason the offerings were brought in six wagons rather than twelve. This meant that two tribes were required to share a wagon in the spirit of "ahava vechiba" love and affection. For this reason, the Torah lists each of their korbanot separately, emphasizing that they each had the same zechut, merit and each deserved to be commended individually for their contribution. We could add that based on the Abarbanel's explanation we can understand why there is a summary of all the korbanot at the end of the perek. Although each nasi brought his own korban, their intention in bringing the identical offering was to create a sense of achdut. This is encapsulated in the numerical summary of the entire chapter. We have seen two different understandings of the repetition of the korbanot hanesi'im. However, we posit that these two ideas are not opposing but rather compliment one another. Achdut is not achieved by a union of all opinions and attitudes in the world to one. (This was the mistake of those who built Migdal Bavel.) Achdut is a mosaic of a range of different opinions, a variety of people and ideas who merge together with a united goal. Rav Kook, commenting on the famous gemara: Talmidei chachamim marbim shalom ba'olam" states that it is specifically the discussion of talmidei chachamim, the offering of opposing views that leads to real peace. This is why the continuation of the aggada alludes to the fact that the people who involve themselves in Torah are considered to build the world. Real achdut, real shalom is what builds the world and is created by a plethora of different opinions and ideas. This is also supported by the mishna in Pirkei Avot (4:28): Hakina, vehata'ava vehakavod mitzi'in et ha'adam min ha'aolam, Jealousy, desire and honor remove a person from this world. There are many interpretations to this mishna but on a simple level it means that one whose character is defined by these traits has no place in the world. Only those, who like the talmidei chachamim differ and argue "leshem shamayim" for positive goals and not for personal gain will contribute to the building of the world. In this manner, the nesi'im were a fine example for the rest of Am Yisrael. As we approach Chag Hashavuot, we are reminded of Rashi's comments on the words "vayichan sham Yisrael neged hahar, Israel encamped there opposite the mountain" (Shemote 19:2), "Keish echad belev echad, as one man with one heart" (Rashi ibid). Does this comment of Rashi contradict what we have written above? We suggest not, for two reasons. First of all, at the end of the Matan Torah narrative in Chapter 24 of Shemot, we are told that in making the covenant of the Torah, Moshe builds an altar comprised of twelve stones corresponding to the twelve tribes of Bnei Yisrael. This seems to allude to the fact that we require each unique tribe to be involved in the covenant of Torah. Secondly, the variety of opinions to which we have referred still need to be directed towards one goal, that of furthering society and avodat Hashem. To this Rashi refers when he says "ke'ish echad belev echad". Am Yisrael, a people of twelve tribes, of 600,000 individuals with different ideas and opinions were united in their readiness to accept the Torah from Hashem. Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach, Rav Yonatan


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