Naso (5779)

Drash Cards for Naso (5779)

by Marc Mangel

• 55th anniversary of my Bar Mitzvah.  Please stay for lunch; it is my “Bar Mitzvah Party”.

• I thought to talk about my Bar Mitzvah but Susan said “You’ve already talked about your Bar Mitzvah and don’t have a story to match Shlomo’s chicken, so just give a regular drash”. 

• Regular drash it is.

• Today we read all of Chapter 7.  At lunch last week, everyone was talking about the length of the assignments, how they thought about asking Tammi for a different one, and then discovered that all of the assignments were long!

• Here’s why.  After a 12 line introduction, we have the offering of the princes for the dedication each day. Each prince’s offering takes about 5 verses (so 10 verses to cover two princes), and then a conclusion of 15 verses.  So about 90 verses in total.

• But here’s the deal: on the surface, it seems that each prince brings exactly the same thing. For example, they all begin  their offerings with “one silver bowl weighing 130 shekels, one silver sprinkling basin weighing  70 shekels, both filled with fine flour mixed with olive oil for a grain-offering”, etc.

• On the surface,  the princes shared a common significance of the offerings.  For example,  chazal teach that the silver bowl alluded to Adam (because of gematria ‘silver bowl’ about the number of years he lived [930] and its weight was the age at which he had children). The silver basin alluded to Noah, again because of gematria (one silver basin = 520; 500 is the year at which Noah had children, and 20 is the 20 years preceding the decree of the flood).

•Chazal also teach that he prince paid for his offering himself – he did not collect money from the tribe, even though the offering was made on behalf of the whole tribe.

• However, slightly beneath the surface the meaning of each offering for each prince is different.  For example, the silver bowl:

  1. Nachson –alludes to Shlomo and Mashiach
  2. Netanel—alludes to the Torah
  3. Eliav –alludes to the sea
  4. Elitzur –alluding to how Reuben thwarted the plans of his brothers to kill Joseph
  5. Shelumiel – alludes to the courtyard that encompassed the Taberncle
  6. Eliasaf – alludes to Yocheved
  7. Elishama – alludes to Jacob
  8. Gamliel –also alludes to Jacob
  9. Avidan –alludes to Rachel
  10. Achiezer – alludes to the bread of the Nazir’s offering
  11. Pagiel –alludes to the 70 nations descended from Noah
  12. Achira – alludes to Sarah

I do not have time to go through the proof text for these.

• What is the message for us? I think that there are three.

• First, in the same way that each prince brought the same offering, which had a fundamental commonality but also meant something different to each one of them because of who they were, we come together every week to say the same prayers  but every time we are different. Thus our interactions with the prayers change because we change.

• Second, in the same way that he prince paid himself for the offering, we can delegate prayer to anyone else – we must bring the offering.

• Third, the princes could not change the offering to God; they could not change God by their offering, but they could change themselves. Similarly,  when we pray if our goal is to change God, our prayers are likely to fail. If we pray to change ourselves, we have a much better chance of succeeding.

• Shabbat shalom.

 • And a PS:  During Kiddush, my friend Jai Dravich told me that in the Art Scroll Chumash, there is a note saying that although the princes gave a lot, they were so rich that they could easily afford to give. Jay and I decided that this should be the way dues are structured:  everyone should give, but the amount should be one that they can afford to give without feeling uncomfortable about it.