Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues
Don't DelayAnd the Leaders brought the shoham stones and filling stones for the ephod and for the choshen. (35:27)
You will notice that the word Nesi'im in Hebrew is missing a yud. It should have been written הנשאים or הנשיאים as it is in the rest of Chumash. Rashi takes note of this and quotes a Midrash:
R. Nosson said: Why did the Leaders see fit to contribute to the dedication of the altar first [as soon as the mishkan was erected (Bemidbar 7:1-2) they immediately contributed the first korbonos to be sacrificed on the altar] whereas for the building of the mishkon they were not the first to contribute? This happened because the Leaders thought as follows: "Let the public-at-large contribute whatever they will contribute, and whatever will be lacking we will supply."
In the end, the public supplied all that was needed, as it is said: "And the work was sufficient," (Shemos 36:7). The Leaders said, "What is left for us to do?" So "they brought the shoham-stones, etc." It is for this reason that at the altar dedication they contributed first. And since, at the beginning they were somewhat lax, a letter was omitted from their name and it is written והנשאם (without a yud) (Bemidbar Rabba 12:16.
The Chofetz Chaim (on the Torah) notes that besides the obvious absence of the yud in this parsha there is another distinguishing difference. Here, during the donations to the Mishkan, all the Nesi'im are grouped together as having brought the shoham stones. However, in Parshas Naso, in relating the dedication of the Mizbeach, the Torah does not clump them all together, but lists each Nasi individually, in spite of the fact that their korbonos were all exactly the same.
In Parshas Naso, the Torah made a point to teach us how much Hakadosh Baruch cherishes a person's acting with quickness and jointly with the community at large and not bragging and flaunting his actions. In bringing the korbonos, the Nesi'im showed absolutely no envy or competition among them.
In our parsha, the Nesi'im were lax in joining the nation in donating to the building of the Mishkan. Therefore they lost a letter in their name. In Naso, however, they brought their offering out of unreserved generosity. Therefore the Torah went out of its way to honor them by devoting an entire parsha to them. Not only was no letter detracted from their name, but each Nasi received a distinctive description of his offering.
The Alter of Novahrdok, R. Yosef Yozel Horowitz zt"l, used to say that not a week or a day went by that he did not entirely review his approach in education and Avodas Hashem to see if he had not wandered astray of his mark.
He also said that if someone were to come and criticize him logically and systematically and tell him that he was still far removed from the truth, he would not hesitate a moment to accept it and thank him for illuminating him. (Hameoros Hagedolim 118)
So too must we be open to constant growth and redirection. As Rav Yissacher Frand once put it - life isn't stagnant. Rather it's like a space ship that has to have constant in-flight adjustments to keep it on track and to keep it from falling.
Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, the Alter from Novhardok is perhaps the personification of the quality of "purpose." He took upon himself the job of establishing yeshivos all over Europe, and maintained this goal throughout his life. The sefer Ham'oros Hagedolim (section 136) tells of his remarkable determination:
During World War One, the Alter regularly traveled between the yeshivos in Russia in order to encourage the students and raise their spirits. During the war it was considered dangerous to travel on the roads, and people felt that the railways were the only secure form of transportation. As a result, the trains were overburdened with passengers. People were packed into the compartments like sardines, and overflowed out onto the steps. Some even climbed onto the roofs of the cars.
Rav Yosef Yozel once had to make an urgent trip from Hummel to an outlying yeshiva. He had been told that the students' spirits were flagging, and wanted to help raise morale. When the elderly Rav arrived at the train station, he saw there was no hope of boarding the train in a normal fashion. Firmly resolved to go on the journey, and left with no alternative, he unhesitatingly climbed through the window like a vigorous young man! Some soldiers who were present expressed their astonishment at his action: "Look at that old man!"
Yet such enthusiasm was typical of the Alter. The gedolei Torah of the time were awestruck at his behavior. Old and sick, Rav Hurwitz was suddenly transformed into a youngster. During those days of uncertainty and upheaval, he traveled to distant locations without a second thought, and after each journey he literally fell into his bed from exhaustion.
These trips were constant. He hadn't recuperated from one pressing mission before receiving a telegram about another one that was just as urgent. He would then promptly set off again for three days straight of travel. He once spent Rosh Hashana in Kiev, Shabbos Teshuvah in Charkov, and Yom Kippur in Hummel. He didn't worry about his family, and wasn't even concerned for his very life. In his view, he was merely a faithful servant of his Creator with a job to perform: to ensure that Torah would not be forgotten by the Jewish people.
The trips were also full of hardship. Often left with no other choice, he would travel coach class. The cars were so packed that whoever was sitting couldn't get up, and whoever was standing couldn't sit down - like the plague of darkness in Egypt. It was a great miracle just to remain in the car and not be pushed out the window.
Once he went to Berditchov to encourage the students in the yeshiva there. When he arrived, the city was under siege. Shells were flying everywhere, and the enemy forces were invading and preparing to unleash a pogrom on the hapless Jewish residents. The shocked inhabitants asked the venerable sage why he had risked his life to come at so dangerous a time. Upon hearing his reply they wonderingly inquired, "Is now the time to worry about the morale of the yeshivah students!?" He unhesitatingly answered, "I am fighting Hashem's battles. The Torah is dying out and being forgotten. This is an emergency, and drastic measures are called for. If I don't help strengthen the yeshivos and ensure that their doors remain open, what will become of the Torah?!"
Shema Yisrael Torah Network