Our Parasha tells us that when Moshe Rabbeinu completed the construction of the Mishkan-Tabernacle, the Nesi’im, the chiefs of each tribe began to offer sacrifices. This was the dedication ceremony for the Mishkan. The Midrash in Bamidbar Rabba 12:15 says that this dedication occurred on Rosh Chodesh Nisan of the second year after the Exodus from Egypt. For 12 days the chiefs of each tribe offered sacrifices. Each of these offerings was of equal value.
The description of the offerings of the tribal chiefs stretches over close to ninety verses. The verses are repetitive, seemingly recalling the exact same events and facts. Why does the Torah go to such great lengths to describe these offerings? The Torah could have described the offering and then said that each tribal chief brought the same offering.
This question has already been asked by the Midrash (Raba 13:14) and the Midrash answers, “Even though they each offered the same sacrifice, they meant by them to symbolize great events, with each selecting according to his own judgment.” Externally the offerings were similar, but there was an essential difference between each sacrifice. Each tribal chief brought unique intent with the particular sacrifice brought on behalf of his tribe. The Midrash describes at length the unique intent of each sacrifice and how it was appropriate for the particular tribe.
We can apply this same concept in our own lives. Most people appear similar through their actions. Most of us eat, drink, sleep and work. We Jews observe Mitzvot, learn Torah and pray. Under such circumstances it is possible to lose sight of the unique nature of our personalities. We could even go so far as to say that the goal of the Torah was to create one type of person, identical to his friend in all ways.
This is, of course, a grave mistake. The Torah does not intend to blur the differences between people. The system of Mitzvot does endeavor to create unity in action, but it leaves room for each individual to enhance these behaviors with unique intent.
This is the reason the Torah repeats the offerings brought by each tribal prince. While the offerings appeared to be the same, they were inherently different from one another. The external trappings were not indicative of the true nature and intent of each sacrifice. This teaches us that in our very personal, inner existence we can express our individuality, even though we are limited in behavior.
Our Torah is a Torah of Life, matched to the soul of each and every person. Its length, breadth, depth and width are unbounded and there is room for each of us to find our place within it.
Yehi Ratzon – May we cleave to the Torah both in its external form, acting as one with community and in its internal form expressing our uniqueness as individuals.