Parashat Naso

Princely Gifts

The princes' gifts to the Tabernacle illustrate important principles of leadership and methods of balancing personal and communal needs.

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Moses was at first unsure of how to respond to this. God's response--let them bring the sacrifices, one day at a time--seems to not only accept the spontaneous gift of each nasi, but to spotlight it, individualize it. God's decision to give each nasi a separate day in which to bring his sacrifice seems to underscore the individuality of each gift. This, in spite of the fact that they all gave the exact same thing.

The Torah, in fact, at the very end of our parashah, goes through the same list, twelve times, of animals and incense and grain offerings and utensils that each one of the leaders brought. This seemingly unnecessary repetition of the same list of offerings creates, I think, a balance. A balance between the individual expression of each nasi's desire to give of himself to the Tabernacle--underscored by each nasi getting his own day and his own separate mention--and the collective nature of their act--they all originally approached Moses together and they all give the exact same thing.

This balance between the individual and the collective, between the urge to stand out from and the urge to be a part of, is a balance that all of us must struggle to achieve in our personal and communal lives.

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Rabbi Shimon Felix

Rabbi Shimon Felix is the Israel Director of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. He lives with his family in Jerusalem, and has taught in a wide variety of educational frameworks in Israel and abroad.