Rosh Hodesh Kislev Torah Essay
Chanukah, as its name suggests, is a holiday that celebrates the rededication of the Beit HaMikdash following the miraculous victory of the Chashmonaim over the Greeks. In honor of this, for the 8 days of Chanukah, we read the Torah portion in Bamidbar that tells the story of the original dedication of the Mishkan and the Korbanot brought by the Nesi’im.
When one reads the passages that discuss the Korbanot of the Nesi’im, it becomes glaringly obvious that each Nasi brought the same exact Korban, and yet the Torah details the Korban each time a Nasi brings it. Based on the teachings of Chazal that the Torah doesn’t waste words and that even every letter of the Torah is important, there is an obvious question: Why does the Torah repeat the Korban of each Nasi, if they were all exactly the same?
This question has been dealt with by numerous Midrashim and Parshanim. The Pesikta Rabati in Piska Zayin Siman Zayin tells us that the reason the Korban is detailed by each Nasi is to teach us “היאך כולם חביבים ושוים” – how they were each cherished and equal. If the Torah had written one Nasi’s Korban and then said that every Nasi brought that same Korban, it would have made that one Nasi look more important than the others. But had the Torah simply wanted us to see that the Nesi’im were all equal before Hashem, it could have just written that all of the Nesi’im brought the following Korban. It details the Korban with each Nasi to show that they were also cherished by Hashem.
I believe there is another reason why the Korbanot were detailed with each and every Nasi. Hashem wanted to show us that even though they all brought the same Korban, they each brought it in their own way with their own unique touch. Each Shevet and each Nasi brought something unique and special to the table when it came to dedicating the Mishkan to Hashem. They each have their own strengths and qualities, that can’t be replicated by another Shevet. We can learn from this that each and every one of us has our own strengths and abilities, and we each bring something else to the table when it comes to Avodat Hashem.
We can strengthen this point by looking at the Midrashim that discuss each Nasi and the order in which the Korbanot were brought. The first Nasi to bring his Korban was Nachshon ben Aminadav of Shevet Yehuda. Why did he deserve to be the first? As many Midrashim point out, it was a reward for his having been the first person to enter the Yam Suf. The next Shevet to bring a Korban is Yissachar. The Midrash explains that Yissachar merited to go second because, “שהיו חכמים וגבורים בתורה” – they were wise and strong in Torah (Tanchumah Bamidbar 14). And then the Nasi of Zevulun brought his Korban – why?
לפי שחיבב את התורה, והרחיב ידיו לפזר ממונו ליקק כדי שלא יצטרך שבט יששכר לפרנסה, ולא יתבטל מלעסוק בתורה
Because he cherished theTorah and he gave his money away so that Yissachar wouldn’t have to worry about Parnasah and he wouldn’t have to stop learning Torah.
Now, not only can we learn that each Shevet had its only unique abilities, but we can also see the importance of emphasizing Torah in our lives. Whether one is learning Torah or financially supporting Torah learning, it’s essential to place Torah in the center of our lives. Baruch Hashem I have the opportunity to be learning Torah this year in Matan, and I wouldn’t be able to do that without the generous support of donors around the world (particularly, the Bellows).
The beautiful story of the Nesi’im’s Korbanot during the Chanukat HaMishkan teaches us tremendous lessons. Firstly, each and every Shevet had its own unique abilities, and only once they all came together could they properly dedicate the Mishkan. So too, each and every one of us as Jews has our own unique abilities and must channel our strengths to our Avodat Hashem. Secondly, we see the importance of centralizing Torah in our lives and always focusing on its value.
May we all be zoche to internalize these lessons through Chodesh Kislev and Chanukah and merit being able to participate in the Chanukat Beit HaMikdash HaShlishi Bmeheira Byameinu!