In this week’s parashah there are many new and difficult concepts to absorb: Tzara’at – the punishment which was like a spiritual leprosy; the Sotah - the trial by ordeal of the suspected adulteress; the Nazir – one who vowed to be abstemious to better serve HaShem.
One section which always intrigues me is that in which the leaders of each tribe are invited to bring their offerings, one day at a time.
We are told that the Torah does not waste words, that every single letter and space in the Torah is meaningful.
Yet every single detail of every single offering is listed – and they are all identical!
So – among several questions which arise:
- Why were they all listed? Why not just say ‘ ..and each of the other eleven leaders made the same offering ..’ ?
- What prompted Netanel, the second of the princes to make his offering, to give exactly the same as Nachshon, the first to donate?
- Why, at the end, after all the offerings are totalled, is there a seemingly superfluous passuk (7:89) which details the day of the dedication of the Mishkan with God speaking to Moshe from between the Cherubim in the Aron Kodesh?
I have read several explanations and interpretations of this section.
I have always thought that the second leader, Netanel, of the tribe of Yisaschar was very wise. He could have tried to outshine Nachshon, whose offering was made on the first day; he could have given less, as his tribe was lower down the ranking order. By choosing to give exactly the same, he made it easy for the remaining leaders to add their offerings, and to show mutual honour and respect.
By listing each and every item, and then summarising them, the Torah gives an impression of how much every single thing was valued and treasured by HaShem.
There is also a lovely idea that this was a powerful show of national unity, of the desire to show unity of heart and mind, to become a people and not a gathering of individuals.
If so, this is borne out in the last passuk, from which we can infer that HaShem was only ready to speak to Moshe on that day BECAUSE of the show of unity from the leaders.
In these difficult times, there has been an even stronger show of unity from this wonderful Pinner community.
One of the most heartening things that has happened to me was when I called one of our members on behalf of the Welfare team to see what we could do for her. We chatted for a while about her health and her needs.
Then she asked ‘What can I do to help others?’