Plat It Again, Schloomiel
Volume 2 Issue 35
by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky
Naso is the longest portion in the Torah. It did not have to be that way,
but the Torah chose to include seventy verses that say the same thing --
over and over again.
The end of the parsha discusses the dedication of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).
It describes the offerings that every Nasi (prince) brought in honor of the
auspicious occasion. Each Nasi brought the same items.
Numbers 7:12: "On the first day, Nachshon the son of Aminadav brought his
offering. It was (comprised of) one silver bowl that weighed a hundred and
thirty shekels; one silver basin that weighed seventy shekels. Both were
filled with fine flour and oil. One golden ladle filled with incense. A
young bull, a ram, a sheep, and so on." The Torah uses six verses to
expound, in precise detail, the exact measurements and components of the
On the second day, Nesanel ben Tzuar of the tribe of Yissachar brought the
exact same offering. On the third day Eliyav of Zevulun performed the same
ceremony. Elitzoor ben Shdayoor of Reuvain repeated the same ritual on the
fourth day, and on the fifth day of the dedication, Shimon's prince
Schloomiel, repeated the same. This was repeated twelve separate days, by
twelve different N'siim (princes). And each day the Torah repeats verbatim
the entire offering, changing only the name of the presenter and his tribe.
Normally, the Torah is concise and abbreviated. It leaves us to expound the
hidden and to deduce the conclusions. In fact, the two Talmudic Tractates
that explain the intricate laws of marriage and divorce are derived from
only a handful of verses in Deuteronomy. Why, if all twelve brought the
exact same gifts, is each and every Nasi's offering detailed over and over?
The Torah should simply say the following: the daily offering was brought
on twelve consecutive days. It consisted of the following: "one silver
bowl that weighed a hundred and thirty shekels one silver basin that
weighed seventy shekels filled with fine flour and oil. One golden ladle
filled with incense a young bull, a ram, a sheep, and so on."
Next, the Torah should list the names of the twelve princes who brought the
offerings. The first day... Nachshon of Yehudah; the second day... Nesanel
of Yissachar; and so on. That way, seventy verses would be compacted into
no more than ten or fifteen! And Parshas Naso would be fifty verses shorter.
A noted American Rabbi was invited to address two major cities in South
Africa. Since the cities were hundreds of miles apart, he only prepared one
speech for both events. It was a wonderful lecture. It encompassed a wide
spectrum of Jewish ideas and was filled with Midrash and Jewish law.
Informative, enlightening and entertaining, it was the best speech he had
The first night's audience attested to that. They sat with their mouths
open, taking in every nuance and motion of the dramatic presentation. After
the lecture a crowd gathered around the Rabbi to both praise him and hear
variations on his poignant theme.
After such a wonderful reception, the Rabbi thought that the second evening
on the other side of the country should be a breeze. As he walked up to the
podium to deliver his magnum opus he looked at the crowd and froze. He
spotted at lease fifty faces of people he was sure had attended the
previous night's speech.
Stunned, he quickly ruffled through the index cards of his mind. He pieced
together parts of an old High Holy Day speech, added little from Chanuka,
Purim, and the Hagadah. What resulted was a scattered array of varying
thoughts. To say the least, it was not his best performance.
After the speech the same faces of the previous evening gathered once again
around the Rabbi. "I'm sorry," he stammered to them, "I had originally
planned to repeat last night's speech. Seeing your faces, I hastily
arranged a piecemeal lecture based on some previous talks. Had I known you
were coming, I would have prepared a totally new talk. I am sorry for my
"But, Rabbi," they replied. "That is exactly why we came! Last night's talk
was the most fascinating we had ever heard. We expected you to repeat it.
We came all the way to hear it over again word for word!"
The Torah, in repeating the twelve offerings, and spending six verses on
each one, leaves us with a message that is as powerful as it is pertinent.
Many of our deeds are repeats of generations passed. Many are repeats from
yesterday. They are all beloved and cherished. Day after day after day...
Hashem wants to hear and see the exact same prayer, blessing charitable
action over and over again. It is as dear as the first time.
Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.
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The author is the Associate Dean of the
Yeshiva of South Shore.
Drasha is the e-mail edition of FaxHomily, a weekly torah facsimile on the weekly portion
which is sponsored by The Henry and Myrtle Hirsch Foundation