July 23, 2024
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Throughout parshat Naso, we find numerous intimations to one of Judaism’s most fundamental principles: the distinctiveness and individuality of each person. Chazal teaches that every person is required to say, “for me the world was created,” (Sanhedrin 4:5). Indeed, the word “adam” has no plural form, for each person is unique. The Maharal points out that man is the only species created as an individual, unlike other organisms and plants that were created in groups. This demonstrates how everyone has their unique make-up and particular struggles which enable them to bring the great glory of Hashem into this world. In the times of the prophets—the Gra notes—the Navi had the extraordinary insight to tell a person how to actualize his specific mission using his singular strengths. Although we do not have this advantage today, we can use the teachings of the Torah and mitzvot as our guide to fulfill our exclusive potential.

The end of the parsha details the sacrifices that each of the princes brought at the time of the Mishkan’s consecration. The Torah enumerates the specifics of each prince’s sacrifice down to the smallest details, albeit they all brought the exact same gifts. The Ramban teaches that although the sacrifices seemed to be identical on the outside, each prince brought his gift and injected his individual kavanot reflecting the distinctiveness of his tribe. What comes to mind—when reading the parsha—is that one must be acutely aware that outer behavior needs to be understood within the context of the inner mindset. This is what creates uniqueness and individuality. Naso—the lengthiest parsha in the Torah—reminds us to see beyond superficiality and highlight that which is distinct.

We find this concept echoed further in the parsha, where the Torah describes the appointments of each Levite family (Bamidbar 4:24–33). The Ramban emphasizes that the jobs were not just given to the tribe at large or to a particular household; rather, each job was directed to a specific person. This again, underscores the individual mission each person is assigned when they are born.

Whatever job we are given and whatever challenges we face, we are also given the wherewithal to manage it. Hence, the family of Merari—who carried the heaviest items of the Mishkan—were given four wagons to help with their load. The family of Gershon, however, carried a lighter load, so they were given only two wagons. The Pnei Menachem of Gur comments that we find this exact concept intimated in Pesukei D’Zimra. David HaMelech tells us that Hashem is “hanoten sheleg katzamer, kfor kaefer yefazer,” (Tehillim 147:16). Hashem “gives snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes.” Whatever situation we are in, Hashem gives us the people and the resources to navigate our unique circumstances.

Finally, we learn from the family of Kehat—who carried the Aron on their shoulders—the necessary attitude we must have toward our mission in this world. The Torah tells us that they did not receive any wagons since “bakatef yisau—they carried the Holy Ark on their shoulders.” Chazal questions why the word “carry” is necessary here. Is it not understood from “on their shoulders” that they were carrying it? Rather, “yisau” is related to “seu zimra—raise up” in song. The members of Kehat sang with joy at the opportunity to carry the Aron. Likewise—notes the Sefat Emet—each of us who is “carrying the glory of Hashem” in our lives, should do so with joy and song.


Mrs. Shira Smiles, a lecturer, author and curriculum developer, is a member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau (www.mizrachi.org/speakers).

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