Thursday, May 31, 2012

no ego trip

Why does the Torah repeat the list of gifts brought by each Nasi to dedicate the Mishkan when the gifts were all identical?  The Torah could have just given the list once and written "ditto" eleven times?  Ramban gives two answers: 1) The Nesi'im agreed upon the same gifts and brought them all on the first day, but the korbanos had to be spaced out and offered one per day.  The Torah repeats the list of gifts and offerings brought each day so as to stress that those which were brought later were just as valuable and important as those offered earlier.  2) Although the gifts were the same, each was brought with a slightly different intention in mind; therefore the Torah repeats each gift seperately. 

It seems that Rashi disagrees with this last point, as Rashi only explains the intent behind the gift brought by Nesanel ben Tzu'ar on the second day.  He offers no similar explanation as to the intent of the other Nesi'im.   If the motivation and intent of each Nasi was different and that is why the Torah repeats the list so many times, Rashi should offer an explanation for each one (as the Midrash in fact does).  

Yesh lachkor whether the Nesi'im presented one gift in twelve parts or twelve separate gifts?  I would say Ramban holds the second view while Rashi holds the first.  The parsha concludes by giving the sum total of all that was presented, suggesting that all that was given should be viewed as one whole unit.  According to Ramban, one must read the summation as another way to underscore the theme of equality.

The Yalkut Shimoni writes that had the Nesi'im not offered identical korbanos -- had they instead tried to out-do each other -- the korban of day seven would not have been doche Shabbos.  Since the Nesi'im respected each other, Hashem said He will in turn show respect to their korbanos and accept them even on Shabbos.  The meforshim explain that even though each gift korban was brought by an individual Nasi, the korbanos had the din of a korban tzibur.   We see that the "shem" tzibur in a hashkafic sense depends less on how many people are involved than on many egos are involved.  

But why specifically is being doche Shabbos the response to the Nesi'im's selflessness?  The Shem m'Shmuel in many places explains that the word "vayechal" in the pasuk, "VaYechal Elokim bayom ha'shevi'i," can be interpreted as coming from the root "klal," as in Klal Yisrael. Shabbos is the unification of G-d with creation; it is also the unification of man with his fellow man to create one unit, one klal, one tzibur.  All the individual days of creation and their parts come together as a greater whole on Shabbos.  The surrender of ego for the sake of the group, the klal, as exemplified by the Nesi'im, is itself the greatest fulfillment of the ideal of Shabbos, hence their korbanos could be offered even on the seventh day.  


  1. Anonymous1:30 PM

    because not a single night interposed between
    Yehuha's collective approach & his individual
    approach--both on day one--David haMelech would be wakened every night by harp, to study & prayer

  2. I want to know exactly what you mean by "presented one gift in twelve parts or twelve separate gifts". It is clear from 7:10-11 that they brought them all on the first of Nissan, and Hashem told Moshe they should be brought sequentially. In fact, that's what I was going to write about this week- the Brisker Rov on Chumash brings from the Gram Horwitz, the rov of Pinsk, that the reason the summation mentions that the ketores was in the containers but not that the soles was in the containers is that ketores is not nifsal b'linah, as per Tos Shevuos 11b, while soles certainly is, and if they had put the soles in the containers on day one, all but Yehuda's would have been nifsal b'linah.

    Second: How can you believe that Rashi holds that only Nesanel's was uniquely motivated???? Isn't it pashut that Rashi is just giving him as an example?

    The Shem MiShmuel is interesting, despite the ches/choph issue. Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto.

    1. chaim b.9:36 AM

      >>>It is clear from 7:10-11 that they brought them all on the first of Nissan, and Hashem told Moshe they should be brought sequentially.

      I don't see where you are going. They were all brought on one day, which could mean it was one big gift (everyone pitched in to bring a portion) in 12 parts, or 12 gifts brought simultaneously.

      >>>Second: How can you believe that Rashi holds that only Nesanel's was uniquely motivated???? Isn't it pashut that Rashi is just giving him as an example?

      Because Rashi should have used the first Nasi as the opportunity to comment if he was giving an example. Why the second? And what is it supposed to be an example of -- if it is to show that each gift had a unique meaning, wouldn't he need to comment on at least 2 to show that each is distinct?
      Abarbanel does not quote Rashi but he does quote the Midrashim and he contrasts the view cited by Rashi that interprets the meaning as related to Adam, Noach, etc. with the other views in the Midrash that interpret the meaning of the gifts as related to the history/destiny of each particular sheivet. The former view holds that the same intention was true of all the gifts; the latter view holds the intention was particular to the sheivet. (Ramban I believe disagrees, but combined with the first point, I think this is the best approach to reading Rashi).

    2. "I don't see where you are going."

      Actually, I just came back from a trip to Kenosha and Milwaukee. More to the point, now I hear what you are suggesting- that each brought what he brought as a contribution to a korban nesi'im fund, expecting that all the korbanos would then become a korban tzibbur, undifferentiated as to each part's donor. Hashem told Moshe that in fact, the donation of each would retain its donor's identity and be offered by him on his own day.

  3. Anonymous10:44 PM

    sevara-- because each of the 12 leaders patiently stood thru the counting of his tribe, Hashem patiently, painstakingly took conspicuous inventory
    of the gift of each, midah k'neged midah: to him who shows much patience
    (even when ordered to do so), much Patience will be shown...

    but surely this repetitious section can stand without begging explanation,
    as by it we see Hashem bear witness to this quintessential expression of
    His Kingship here: His simply sitting for the ceremonial receipt of voluntary tribute (perhaps the very purpose of The Whole Shebang?){set
    between the broadly directed Blessing, 6:27, & the narrowly directed Voice, 7:89}...