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Naso ~ Alone Together

May 29, 2009

In Naso, the jews are inaugurating the mishkan, the tent or temple that is created in the desert (which we talked about in B’midbar) . There are several really interesting ideas here. The first is the offerings, or silver platters. Each of the twelve tribes must bring one on each of twelve days. One each day. Some midrash asks why the Torah says there are 12 on the 12th day, shouldn’t there be just the one? It seems that the Torah is referring to the totality of all the tribes offerings, making the first offering and the last offering of equal value. Or, viewed another way that the last is as important as the first since the mishkan, the sanctification, is incomplete without all the offerings. Thus is the entire nation of the Jews required for this holy task. There is another interesting idea in Naso that ultimately relates to the first. It is the idea of separation. The Jews are separated by who will transport, who will guard and who will leave the portable sanctuary, the mishkan. One commentary I read talks about the idea that you can see this two ways. First, because it is all related to the sanctification of the sanctuary, we are all “children of G-d”, of the same nation of Jews. Conversely, it could be seen as “we each are separate, having our own job to do”. I think both are true, we are all of the same nation, children of the same G-d. In this context we are all necessary to each other as each tribe was necessary to the completion of the mishkan. But we are also all separate. We are individuals, as G-d made us, with different talents, skills and stations. Not all stations in life are equal but they are all dependent on the others. No person is the proverbial island, able to survive on their own. In ancient times the Priest needed the waterbearer, etc. you get the idea. And so we are each our own selves, special, separate and individual. But we are made greater, stronger and more special by our unity as a nation of people, bound together by tradition, purpose and faith. In this way G-d has given us the best of both; our uniqueness and our interdependence, all wrapped up in one.

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