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Naso: Unique

Miriam Aflalo

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

“And on the second day … offered …” right justify the attribution(Bamidbar 7:18)

When describing the donations of the tribal princes, the pasuk repeats each and every donation, with each donor’s name, although all the donations were identical. The Ramban explains that this was done to show us that all the donations were equally precious in the eyes of Hashem.

The Midrash cites another reason: Each prince had different thoughts while bringing his offering, thereby making each offering unique. (Rav Yaakov Neiman, Darchei Mussar)

The story is told of a certain woman (me) who hoped, one evening, to put her small children to bed and to ignore the older ones as much as possible, because great was the workload that awaited her attention. And so, she girded herself (with a reviving cup of coffee and a really very-small piece of chocolate) to attack the great mountain that stood before her like a mighty fortress (an enormous pile of tests to correct, sandwiches to make, a skirt to hem, and a one-day-only-sale). Thus she began to trek up the great mountain — the children fell asleep, and the tests were nearly all corrected.

But alas! Suddenly there was heard a faint cry from the crib of her little one, and the cry grew stronger as the little one screamed unto the heavens. And his mother took him into her arms, and knew that indeed, her plans had vanished into nothingness. And she held him all those long hours, until her strength was spent, and the little one rested.

And behold, the story was very frustrating.…

It’s not that I don’t love him. It’s not that I don’t think that soothing him was a priority.

So why do I feel frustrated, as if I’d wasted the whole evening?

Because 25 percent of all my neighbors have colicky babies. As do half of my sisters. And three-quarters of the ladies at work.

Maybe if I were the only person in the world with a baby … then, I would have felt very special as I related dramatically: “Last night my baby cried all evening. And I held him. All evening!”

Everyone would have gazed at me with endless admiration, and I would have been so proud of myself that it wouldn’t have entered my mind to feel bad about the sale, or the unmade sandwiches. Because, after all, only I have a crying baby. Imagine!

But in truth, the reality is really no different than my imagination. My baby doesn’t care how many others like him are crawling about our neighborhood. He needed me. So I did something incomparably great. Something unique.

The Alter of Kelm, Maran Simcha Zisel ztz”l says another reason for the repetition of the offerings:

Because the Torah wants to teach us that there are no generalities in mitzvos. It doesn’t matter how many people do the same mitvah; each one is loved by Hashem. And Hashem rejoices over each and every one. (ibid.)

Shavuos is knocking at my heart’s door.

Come, it beckons. Come prepare to receive the Torah.

Me?

How am I preparing? All I’m busy doing is buying mountains of cheese and arranging the flowers on the table. I’m baking cheesecakes and planning festive meals.

But the holy Torah is yours, too! You also stood among the multitudes and said, with tears of emotion, “Naaseh v’Nishma.

I know the Torah is mine, and I fulfill it to the best of my ability. But so do all my neighbors, and coworkers, and relatives. It’s the normal, daily way of life for all of us. So how am I, personally receiving the Torah? There are so many around me doing the same mitzvos that I am doing. Why does Hashem need me?

The Yom Tov knocks incessantly upon my heart. Let me in, it whispers. You are unique in Hashem’s eyes. You alone are receiving the holy Torah. You’re the only one sending off your husband every morning to Torah, and the only one welcoming him with a smile of appreciation when he returns from his studies. You’re the only one nurturing Hashem’s precious children, and the only one in the whole world who says Kriyas Shema with them at bedtime.

The world is silent. No bird is singing. Everything stands at attention, waiting … waiting … for you. Only you. Come, accept the Torah with love. Come strengthen its hold in your heart. Rejoice in the delight your deeds, and yours alone, cause the Ribono shel Olam. How great you are. How unique.

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