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[Dvar Torah] Naso

The parshat of this week is parshat Naso. The main points of this parshat are the census of the Levite families of Gershon and Merari, the laws of Sota, the priestly blessings, the laws of the Nazir as well as the offerings from the leaders of the Twelve Tribes to the Mishkan. This last point is the one I will focus on today. 

On the day of the anointing of the altar, the chieftains of the twelve tribes of Israel brought their offerings - gifts of precious metals and animals. Only one chieftain would go to the altar each day to bring his offerings. Interestingly, their offerings were identical, but the Torah writes them in detail twelve times. The Torah could have abbreviated its account by describing the gifts brought by one tribe and stating that each of the other tribes did likewise. There are a few explanations for this.

Moses is one of the most famous leaders in the world. And for a good reason. Moses was sensitive to people’s nature and knew that “Envy, lust and the pursuit of honor drive a person out of the world.” (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1). These traits are often a leader’s deadliest enemies and they can do serious damage to both the leader and the led.
The Torah’s  repetition of the offerings has the effect of emphasizing the fact that each tribe had its moment of glory. Each, by giving to the house of God, acquired its own share of honor.

And the message from this is critical, as Rabbi Sacks, OBM said - “Honor everyone equally. Pay special attention to potentially disaffected groups. Make each feel valued. Give everyone a moment in the limelight if only in a ceremonial way. Set a personal example of humility. Make it clear to all that leadership is service, not a form of status. Find ways in which those with a particular passion can express it, and ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute.”

How can we honor others equally? Make everyone we meet feel valued? Ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute, including ourselves? Think about this over the weekend and into our summer break. And may we all be able and determined to set a personal example of humility for others to follow. 

Shabbat Shalom! 

Luca, Grade 9