This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Naso (5760)
In the end of our long Torah portion we find a strange thing the same paragraph is repeated twelve times!
At the inauguration of the Tabernacle in the dessert, each of leaders of the twelve tribes brought the same gifts, and the Torah repeats it over and over again… What could possibly be the reason for this repetition?
Once there was a six-year-old boy that didn’t want to go to school. His parents tried everything they knew; yelling, pleading, punishing, bribing but nothing helped.
Of course they didn’t give up; they called professional help. First the teacher of the school, then the principal, then the social worker and finally they decided on a child psychologist.
After several months of costly treatments the psychologist threw up his hands so they tried a psychiatrist who also wasn’t seeing any fruit.
Then suddenly one evening without warning, the boy announced that… he was ready to go to school! The parents couldn’t believe their ears but the next day they both took another morning off from work and escorted their son to school. They made sure that his teachers were expecting him, that he had a good place to sit etc. and left him to begin a new page in life.
The day passed, the parents both left work early and waited proudly by the door of the school for their son to come out. Each took him by a hand and escorted him lovingly through the schoolyard.
“Nu, Shlomie”, asked his father gently “how did you like it?”
“I guess it was O.K.” He answered.
“I know you will really like it. You are so smart and you will really be a good student. We are very proud of you that you’re beginning school!” His mother beamed.
Suddenly the boy stopped, looked angrily up at his parents and said, “WHAT……………? DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO GO AGAIN!?”
One of the most difficult things is to be constant, to stand the test of time. If an idea, an emotion, a deed can stand the test of time it shows that it is connected to something eternal, above time.
But if not….
How many times have we heard of people skyrocketing to fame today, only to be thrown in the garbage bin of obscurity tomorrow. Statues of yesterday’s heroes, and ideologies are pulled down and smashed, and museums filled with ruins of glorious empires that once ruled the world.
Time is the test of truth.
That is one of the purposes of the commandment of ‘Counting the Omer’; to put time in its proper prospective, that we should conquer it and not the opposite.
Therefore counting seven weeks from the Omer is the preparation for the Torah (in fact that is the reason that the holiday is called ‘Shavuos’ lit. weeks) because one of the most important aspects of the Torah is that it must stand the test of time: it must be always new in our eyes. It is like being married. In the beginning it’s new and exciting, but after a while, if there is nothing to freshen it, the relationship can become stale.
(I was recently at the Bris (Circumcision) of someone’s first grandson. Someone said to him “Nu, how does it feel to be a Grandpa!!” He just smiled, nodded his head and kept shaking peoples hands. But he leaned over to me and said jokingly in my ear, I don’t mind being called grandpa, the hard thing is that now I’m married to a grandmother.)
Similarly with the Torah; the day we received it is liked to a marriage day. The trick is to make it new all the time.
One way to do it is like the king in the following story:
Once upon a time there was a King that got married to a daughter of the King of another country thereby linking the two nations.
His new wife loved music, but especially loved to hear her brother play violin.
He was an accomplished violinist and she never tired of listening to him. In fact she insisted that he play every day for a half an hour before her and her new royal husband. At first our king enjoyed it but after a few weeks it got monotonous and after a few months it was hell. What could he do? He knew that one wrong word would endanger his marriage and may even bring war. But then he had a brilliant idea; every day he invited a new audience to his palace to listen to the music together with him then, when he saw how much they enjoyed the music (being it was the first time they heard it) he enjoyed it also.
Similarly one can renew the Torah by teaching it to others, by learning with others and by learning from others. Then the Torah becomes fresh and always interesting.
But, this is treating the Torah in a somewhat superficial way; like nice, but boring music.
It can be compared to going out every night with one’s spouse to keep things fresh, it works and it’s a good idea once in a while, but there must be something deeper, something eternal in marriage.
In Judaism this deeper dimension is represented at the marriage ceremony by the ‘Chuppa’ (the wedding canopy); the surrounding force that keeps the couple together. It’s the feeling that G-d Himself is the constant partner and binding force in the marriage.
And that is why we begin the day, even before we sit down to learn Torah, with prayer.
Prayer connects us to the GIVER of the Torah, the secret of the Torah, the
infinity and the Joy of the Torah. It connects our emotions to G-d.
It is an interesting thing that three times a year (each Jewish Holiday) all the Jews went up to the Holy Temple to see and be seen by G-d. And the Torah explains that this gave them JOY!
How could seeing G-d make one happy? G-d never changes! In fact everything else in the universe changes constantly (electrons etc. are flying around etc.) except for G-d! It sounds boring!
But really G-d is the source of life and the cause of true Joy.
Like the story of how Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Braditchev one day arrived beaming with happiness at the synagogue. He began making the morning blessings aloud but left out the blessing
“Blessed are you G-d that you didn’t make me a Gentile.”
When his Chassidim asked him why, he explained:
“I woke up this morning and thought to myself, Wow! Am I happy that G-d gave me back a Jewish soul!!! I’m a Jew!!! And I made the blessing.”
In other words, he felt that; just as others are happy when they get money, or something else that makes them feel more alive, how much more so I should rejoice because I am connected to the CREATOR and SOURCE of all life.
So that is the reason for the repetition in the end of our section. The leaders of the tribes were bringing gifts to the TABERNACLE where G-d’s presence was to be revealed, and G-d puts life and happiness into everything!
Every day every action no matter how seemingly dull and constant becomes filled with meaning and blessing because it is connected to its infinite creator.
May our good deeds and prayers bring to the immediate revelation of the
Moshiach. Then the entire physical world and all time, will be filled with G-dliness, Blessing and Joy!
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