Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
PARSHAT NASOBamidbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
Haftorah - Judges 13:2-25
Are we robots that perform Hashem's will as demanded, or are we individuals, with the unique ability to leave our mark on the world that we influence?
Often times we observe in ourselves and others that a little bit of our individuality is diminished when we take on more and more obligations in the pursuit of spirituality. Life appears to take on a repetitive nature, every day the same prayers, the same routine, the same choices. Yet, we all believe that our lives become enriched and our individual personalities flower - becoming more refined, purer and more intense.
Usually the Torah does not devote an entire chapter to straight repetition.
The Torah states (Bamidbar 7 10-1 7):
"Then the princes brought forward offerings for the dedication
of the Mizbayach on the day it was anointed, and the princes
brought their offering before the Mizbayach. Hashem said
to Moshe, ‘One prince each day, one prince each day, they
shall bring their offering for the dedication of the Mizbayach.
And so it was with:
Rather than telling us that each prince brought the same offerings, this information is repeated twelve times until all twelve princes and their identical offerings are mentioned. The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 13 and 14) teaches us two very unique concepts about these twelve identical princely offerings.
First, Hashem relishes each and every offering. The fact that the offerings were repeated did not bore Hashem, rather, Hashem savors each and every offering, prayer and supplication regardless of how similar they may be to each other.
Second, each prince embodied the character of their tribe and expressed a unique way of serving Hashem. When Nachshon, the prince of Yehudah brought his offering, it infused the majestic character of Yehudah. Similarly, when Netanel, prince of Yissachar brought his offering, it was imbued with the spiritual leadership that Yissachar always contributed to the personality of Israel. Achiezer, prince of Dan contributed the aspect of judgment that distinguished Dan's place in the undivided community of Israel. Each tribal prince passed on the uniqueness of their tribe through an offering that appeared to be exactly the same as the others.
Back to our original question, are we individuals, with the unique ability to leave our mark on the world that we influence? Our Parsha answers the question with an emphatic YES. Each person has a uniqueness that is imbued in his/her service to Hashem. Knowing this, though our prayers, blessings and offerings that may resemble the prayers, blessings and offerings of others, they convey our own very special qualities and character that is received by Hashem as uniquely original.
Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
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