Unique Sameness

In the torah portion of Nassoh we see a return to the accounting of the artifacts of the tabernacle. We were last focused on that accounting in the torah portion  of Shemini (Leviticus 10) during the dedication of the Sanctuary on the 1st of Nissan, almost one year  after the Exodus.

And it was that on the day that Moses finished erecting the Mishkan, he anointed it, sanctified it, and all its vessels, and the altar and all its vessels.The Nessi’im  (leaders) of Israel, the heads of their fathers’ houses, presented [their offerings]. They were the leaders of the tribes. They were the ones who were present during the counting,( Numbers 7:1-2)

Each one of these Nessi’im or leaders of the tribes  brought a separate offering of his own as “a dedication of the altar.” The Torah in a very lengthy set of verses enumerates each of the 35 gifts brought by each one of the leaders of each one of the tribes. What is most striking is that the lists are identical. Yet the Torah sees fit to enumerate each one of the lasts again and again. It enumerates each tribe’s gift separately, although each nassi brought the very same 35 items as part of his offering. Then  the Torah chooses to summarize  the gifts:

“This was the dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the leaders of Israel: twelve dishes of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold… All the silver vessels weighed two thousand four hundred shekels… All the gold of the spoons was a hundred and twenty shekels.” ( ibid 84-88)

Why such a repetition in the Torah text that we know is always very careful with its words and phrases. Every Divinely inspired word is critical, as is true even with the words that are absent.

Some of our sages point to the fact that HaShem repeats the “countings” of his people as an act of endearment and love.They therefore understand  this lengthy description with the same light and understanding. Others have suggested that Nethanel the son of Zu’ar, the leader of the tribe of Issachar simply repeated the gift offered before him by Nachshon the son of Aminadav, of the tribe of Judah, so as to not attempt to better him or show that he was even more generous. this was continued by all the leaders that followed. It is, in the understanding of this view, that it this act of concern that the torah wanted to highlight.

Furthermore, it has been understood, that the torah wanted to teach that in G-d’s eyes each gift is important .that is true even if it is exactly the same gift or service done by others. No one should lose confidence and assume his responsibility and his service is not good enough. In the torah’s final summation of all the gifts one learns the critical nature of each gift, because as we see ,they are critical for creating the “whole”.

Yet in a deeper understanding suggested by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, each offering was not identical. The 72 “repetitious” verses in our Parshah teach us that each individual can do the very same act of service defined by the same details, and still imbue them with their uniquely individual character. Each individual soul may pray the same words, do the same things and bring the same offerings, yet define those things with the colors of each individual soul. Even as they as they are involved in the common denominator of their bond with G-d, they each bring to the experience the richness of their own creative souls.

On the eve of Jerusalem day I went to pray at the Western Wall. As I waited for the Yeshivot to gather together to begin the special Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem day ) service, another yeshiva group entered the Kotel area. The yeshiva boys from the Yeshiva called Maarava, were dressed with black hats and jackets .The yeshiva  boys of the Yeshivot of Beit Shean and Horev were dressed with white shirts and knitted Kippot.
Each of the groups went off to different sides of the Kotel plaza and each of them conducted a service to commemorate the miracles of this Jerusalem day  in their own independent and unique way.. The boys of Yeshivat Maarava ended first and began a circle of dancing, singing psalms in praise of Jerusalem. When the other Yeshivot ended they immediately poured into the Maarava circle and the dancing and singing exploded in volume, exuberance and joy. Soon some of the seemingly secular visitors to the kotel joined in as well.

They were dancing together and singing together in praise of the same Father in Heaven. They had each brought their unique character and outlook into prayer but were clearly united in the rejoicing and the dancing. As they sang “Yibaneh hamikdash “( May the temple be rebuilt) one white shirted boy was lifted n the shoulders of another and he waved a large blue and white Israeli flag. At the same time another boy dressed in a black jacket and wearing a black hat was lifted up as well.

At that moment when they were singing about the rebuilding of the temple together, I am convinced that HaShem heard and began to set the cornerstone in place. May we merit seeing the culmination of its building hurriedly in our time.

3 thoughts on “Unique Sameness”

  1. Hello my friend, you may not remember, but this may help, “How you doin” I was in Jerusalem from Feb to Apr 30 with Calvary Chapel Bible College, I was known to you as “mouth”, LOL. Anyway just wanted to say hello and let you know I am enjoying your emals and website. Unfortunetly I did not get to stop by for farwell greetings and do apologize. More importantly I wanted to share with you something G-d revealed to me regarding my visit. Being raised Catholic and now practicing the Protestant faith, I have been intrigued with Israel and as your well aware in my circle of faith one gets use to hearing, “The Jews just dont get it, thier blinded”, and so on. Well, one of my prayers coming to Israel was for G-d to reveal to my why Israel, the Jews are His chosen people. G-d is Faithful, I realized that if it were not for the Jews, I would not have salvation, I see that Jews are part of G-d’s plan of salvation for me and other non-believers (gentiles). I hope this makes some sense to you and wished to share this with you prior to my departure. Please know I was honored to have met you and priveledged to have studied in a nation called together by G-d. I pray G-d will keep you and give you the desires of your heart, I also pray for Israel and peace in Jerusalem, G-d bless and be well my friend.
    John Mezzacappa

Leave a Comment