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Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the Birkat Cohanim: “May Hashem bless you and guard you. May Hashem illuminate you with His presence and show you grace. May Hashem lift up his countenance to you and grant you Peace.” May Hashem’s blessings, protection and peace illuminate and fill your life.

This Shabbat we read the portion of Naso. This is also Shabbat before Shavuot, and the teachings in this week’s portion have lessons that relate to the entire Torah that was given on Shavuot.

One of the topics discussed in this week’s portion is the consecration of the Mishkan, the Temple that was built in the desert. When the Mishkan was completed, the Princes of each of the Tribes brought special offerings, one Prince each day. They each brought a silver bowl and plate filled with flour and oil, a golden spoon filled with incense, a bull, a ram, a sheep, and a goat. As a Peace Offering, they brought two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five yearling sheep. Although each of the Princes brought his offering on a different day, they all brought exactly the same weight vessels and the same number of animals.

The Midrash teaches that the weight of the vessels and the number of animals had a special significance, and they corresponded to various aspects of Jewish history. As per example, the golden spoon weighed ten Shekels, which corresponded to the Ten Commandments, and the silver bowl weighed seventy Shekels, which corresponded to the seventy elders who formed Moshe’s court.

More interestingly, each leader’s offering corresponded to different things: the Prince of the tribe of Benyamin brought three types of burnt offerings corresponding to the three Temples which were built in his territory in the Land of Israel, whereas the Prince of the tribe of Dan brought the same offerings corresponding to the three commandments the Angel gave to the mother of Shimshon (Samson) who descended from Dan, and the Prince of Naftali brought the same sacrifices corresponding to Avraham’s three sacrifices when Hashem promised him the land of Israel. Similarly, the golden spoons that were offered had a weight of exactly ten Shekalim. When the prince of Yehudah (the tribe of kings) brought his spoon, it corresponded to the ten generations between Yehudah and the first king from his tribe, King David. When the prince of Yissachar (the tribe of scholars) brought his spoon, it corresponded to the Ten Commandments. When the prince of Zevulun brought his spoon, it corresponded to the ten words with which Yaakov blessed his tribe. In this vein, the Midrash explains each of the vessels and each of the offerings that each Prince brought.

This gives us a beautiful insight into all of the Mitzvot that were given at Mount Sinai. Although we all perform the same acts and say the same prayers, we don’t lose our individuality. Each of us is unique in the intent that we infuse into our prayers and our deeds. Thereby, we are united in deed and yet unique in spirit. This is also the meaning of the conclusion of the Amidah (standing prayer) “Grant us our portion in your Torah.” We are beseeching Hashem to allow us to appreciate how each Mitzvah is our own portion, the expression of our souls.

The two aspects are expressed in the preparation for receiving the Torah. Before receiving the Torah, we promised Hashem that “Whatever Hashem says, we will fulfill and we will listen (Naaseh V’nishmah).” Naaseh is the promise to fulfill, whether or not we understand, in which we are all equal. V’nishmah is the promise to seek to understand, and infuse our actions with our appreciation and understanding, in which we are all unique.

The prophet Yechezkiel teaches that at the consecration of the Third Temple, special offerings will be brought just as in the days of Moshe. May we see them very speedily.

Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi Biggs
 

Dedicated to Ruth Raizel Bas Devorah Alta and Chana Esther Bas Sarah for a full and speedy recovery

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