Be Original, Be Yourself!
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
This week we read parashat Naso, which is the longest Torah section. Not surprisingly, this parasha also includes the longest chapter in the Torah, Numbers 7, which includes 89 verses.
This long chapter talks about the gifts (or offerings) brought by the heads of each one of the twelve tribes of Israel on the occasion of the inauguration of the Tabernacle. The Torah describes in detail the offering from each, but each head brought exactly the same gift! (that is the reason the chapter is so long, by the way).
As you may have heard, there are no redundancies in the Torah, but only opportunities to teach new lessons. What lesson can we learn from the repetition of the offering brought by each head of the tribes? The sages explain that no head of tribe copied the gifts of the other heads of tribes. In fact, the sages add, even when everyone brought the same gift, each person brought his gift with his own and unique intentions. The lesson is that sometimes it is more important the way we give/bring something than what we give/bring.
In our modern society we tend to try to be as original as we can, and sometimes we exaggerate a bit! People worry not to say what other people have said, not to wear what other people wear, and so on. We try to give the world something new and different. One the one hand, that is very hard to do, because we are all consumed with the same hopes and fears. We all circle around the same aspiration— to be happy, to live better. Therefore, if we want to give the world (or those around us) something new and completely different, we will probably fail.
However, on the other hand, we are indeed different. Our experiences, our contexts, our viewpoints are unique. If we stay true to ourselves, we will create something new, something that has never existed before. There resides our advantage!
The heads of the tribes of Israel brought the same offering to the inauguration of the Tabernacle. Did they need to be more original? In fact, they were original, because each one of them brought, together with the offering, his own and unique feelings, experiences, and personality. We don’t need to waste our time and energy thinking about how to be more original than others. We need to be true to ourselves and allow our uniqueness to flow through our actions and words.