The Ninth of Av, 3830

The Destruction of Jerusalem, David Roberts (1850)

The second half of parashas Naso is quite repetitious. The head of each tribe brought a gift for the consecration of the Mishkan. Each gift was the same, but aside from some slight but intriguing grammatical differences, all twelve are recorded in the same words. Seemingly repeatedly.

The Ramban (on 7:1) explains that each korban was in fact unique. Even though the items offered were identical, the intent behind the korban was specific to that nasi’s tribe’s talents and history. To Nachshon, the leader of Yehudah, the silver platter was for its gematria (ke’aras kesef), 930, equaling the words “Adam haRishon”, and it weighed 130 shekel to equal the number of his children. But to Nesan’el ben Tzu’ar of Yissachar, the seemingly same offering was about Torah study. The platter refers to bread, the ke’aros that hold up the showbread on the table within the Mishkan. The bread, in turn, was a symbol for Torah in his eyes. Etc…

These gifts are then followed by Hashem’s instruction to Aharon to light the menorah, and how to do so. “When you make the lamps go up, toward the face of the menorah its lamps shall shine.” All the branches bore lamps, and the wicks of each lamp leaned toward the central trunk of the menorah. The branch comes from the central core and points back to the central core. That unity is the role given to Aharon, whose students “love peace and pursue peace, love people and bring them close to Torah.”

Similarly, we as a people come from a common source and work toward a common goal. Even though each has their own branch, their own community, their own perspective. As long as all 12 tribes are following the same Torah, we are enhanced by our diversity and our differing ways of looking at things.

A sword in a scabbard that belonged to a Roman soldier which was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (AFP/HO/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

A healthy person is not one who doesn’t care about the difference between his lungs and his kidneys. But someone who understands the importance of each unique part of the whole, and works toward the health and survival of each organ operating in its own way.

We must realize that unity does not come from erasing our real differences. Not all diversity is divisive.

As we once again face Tish’ah beAv and the consequences of our infighting, we must learn to turn away from judging the other by how much their perspective “interferes” with their serving Hashem the same way we do, and value each of the many ways we developed to follow and observe his Torah and the beauty of those who pursue them.

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