Harmonizing Without Homogenizing
By Rabbi Label Lam
HASHEM said to Moshe, One chieftain each day, one chieftain each day, shall
present his offering for the dedication of the altar. The one who brought
his offering on the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadav of the tribe
of Yehuda. And his offering was one silver bowl weighing one hundred and
thirty [shekels], one silver sprinkling basin [weighing] seventy shekels
according to the holy shekel, both filled with fine flour mixed with olive
oil for a meal offering. One spoon [weighing] ten [shekels] of gold filled
with incense. One young bull, one ram and one lamb in its first year for a
burnt offering. One young he- goat for a sin offering. And for the peace
offering: two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs in their first
year; this was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadav. (Bamidbar 7:11-17)
This verse records the details of such a nice inaugural gift from the tribe
of Yehuda. The perhaps miraculous fact is that each of the next eleven
tribes independently brought the very same offering. It’s almost too hard to
believe that each arrived at the identical conclusion without any collusion
or cooperation. Oddly, each tribe which is blessed with varying native
talents and differing roles to play in the nation, somehow formulated with
perfect uniformity. How is this possible? If this is not a testimony to the
unity of purpose that the Tabernacle- Mishkan, represented I don’t know what
is! Where is the diversity, the inherent, individual identity of each tribe?
We know that the Jews then and even now are not a homogeneous group! When so
many act alike where is there room for individuality?
Reb Klonymous Kalman of Piasezcno writes, “There is a type of prophetic
revelation that comes when one looks into a holy book. Not knowledge of the
future, for that ceased when the Temple was destroyed. Rather, it is
guidance and a call to service of G-d and the holiness of Israel. At times,
we have all experienced looking into a holy book and suddenly becoming
extremely moved by a certain idea. A word pierces our heart and gives us no
rest for years, until it can transform us into a different person and
sanctify and uplift us. What is going on? We have already heard this idea
from others and seen it in books, yet we remained untouched. Yet now, the
matter suddenly penetrates our heart and mind. This is a form of looking
into the Breast Plate worn by the High Priest. There too, all the letters
were written, yet only some of them would shine into the eyes of the Kohen;
and only a Kohen with divine inspiration. Another Kohen could stand beside
him and not see a thing.”
Let’s say I would distribute to 50 people a Sefer Tehillim, and along with
that everyone would receive a highlighter pen and a well-defined assignment.
Each person is requested to carefully review and learn and recite those
Tehillim over the course of a year and carefully search out only 50 verses.
Those that zing them or sing to them they should highlight. If after one
year I would collect that Sefer Tehillim and inspect the pages, I wonder
what the chances are that any two of the 50 fifty people highlighted the
same 50 verses?!
I do believe the statistical odds are nil and not because of something
mathematical but rather due to something mystical. Amazingly, everyone can
be reading the same book or listening to the same lecture and each person
experiences something completely different. One person decides to make
great changes while the other goes home unaffected. What’s happening here?
Everyone finds his “portion in Torah” that we ask for 3 times daily, amongst
wishing for the Temple to be rebuilt, when stepping back from our prayers.
Although each tribe miraculously acted in uniform fashion, our sages tell
us that each one had a completely different intention to their gift. People
may look and dress in uniform fashion but their uniqueness is securely found
inwardly. Sure we all wear the same black square Tefillin or learn the same
Daf. Each one mines out his hidden vitamins. In this way we can act
coordinated outwardly, harmonizing without homogenizing!
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.