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Parsha Naso

By the RANBaCH (Shlit"a) © 9th of Sivan, 5775 (May 27, 2015)

As each tribe brings its gifts we see there is equality among all the tribes. Each tribe brings the exact same amount of gifts and there are 6 verses dedicated to each tribes gifts.

All equal; therefore, all tribes being the same; right?

Not quite.

As we look at the Torah scroll and count the number of lines devoted to each, we find a curious thing: There are 12 tribes which means 72 verses; however, we find differences in the actual number of the lines describing each tribe’s gifts.

Since we know that there are three levels of the Torah (that we can understand):

Therefore, as is known, there is a reason for everything in the Torah. It becomes our task to look beyond the plain meaning of the text to seek out the hidden meaning. The gifts to the building of the Mishkan have puzzled me for some time; therefore, I set out to find the hidden meaning.

1 tribe is given 11 lines – Judah. Judah was the first in line to bring gifts.

According to Rashi: Scripture therefore states,“This was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab” (verse 17), [to teach us that] he brought from his own [resources]. — [Sifrei Naso 1:153, 157]. Therefore, Judah was entitled to the extra line in the scroll for volunteering and setting the example for the other tribes. Additionally, Judah is destined to be the line of kingship and performs the responsibilities of the leader to teach the rest of the people proper behavior (as a leader should do, but rarely does these days).

7 tribes are given 10 lines – Issachar on the second day, Zebulun on the third day, Reuben on the fourth day, Manasseh on the eighth day, Benjamin on the ninth day, Asher on the eleventh day, and Naphtali on the twelfth day. These 7 tribes follow suit based on the example of Judah.

But, 4 tribes are given only 9 lines! – Simeon on the fifth day, Gad on the sixth day, Ephraim on the seventh day, and Dan on the tenth day.

What significance does this have? Again, since we know there is a reason for everything in the Torah, there must then be a reason for diminishing the number of lines for these 4 tribes. Just as Judah’s actions foretell the future destiny of kingship, then what does this foretell of Simeon, Gad, Ephraim and Dan?

Dan – During the reign of King Jeroboam, the king places a Golden Calf in the midst of the tribe of Dan.

Ephraim – Like Dan, King Jeroboam places a Golden Calf in the city of Bethel in the midst of Ephraim.

Dan and Ephraim shared this reduction because they also caused idolatry through Micah the Ephraimite (not the prophet) an idol worshipper. The Dannites sought his council and the council of the idols before conquering the region of Dan in the North. Because they saw the reason for their success as being the result of their seeking the oracle of Micah’s idols, the practice of idol worship was established in the region of Dan. When King Jeroboam places the Golden Calf in their midst, they do not protest.

Simeon - Because of the incident caused by Simeon and Levi in Shechem, Jacob said that they would be scattered in Israel, to prevent them from consolidating their forces. Levi was scattered by nature of their Temple service; Simeon was scattered simply because of Jacob's words. (See Gen. 49:7.) (from Judaism 101). Hence, their lines in the Torah are reduced.

Gad – One of the tribes to take their portion on the East side of the Jordan. Gad was a warrior tribe who would guard the Eastern gate of Israel. Unlike Simeon, Dan and Ephraim’s lines being reduced due to negative reasons, Gad’s lines of the text are reduced because of an additional blessing they received. Gad’s 9 lines are due to the fact that they received the additional blessing of having the burial places of Moshe Rabbainu and their forefather, Gad, within their territory. In this way their inheritance is equal to the rest of the tribes.

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