Parshat Naso: Numbers 4:21-7:80; Judges 13:2-25.
In Parshat Naso, the longest parshah in the entire Torah, we read about the dedication of the altar and the gifts and sacrifices that each Nasi (prince of the tribe) brought. It goes on to detail the sacrifices of all 12 Nesiim, making it clear that they all brought precisely the same things.
When reading this, we have the question of why does the Torah repeat itself, multiple times? It could have specified one, and then merely added that “the same thing was brought by the Nesiim of all the other tribes” without the repetition of what they brought and mentioning each name!
The question gets stronger when we consider the fact that there are many important laws in the Torah that are conveyed with just a few limited words or Torah laws that are not mentioned in the actual text of the Torah at all!
The repetition here comes to teach us a lesson in interpersonal relationships. A person can come along and donate to his local synagogue, even though another 50 people donated the same thing or same amount. Still, he needs to be acknowledged and thanked for it.
This phenomenon was true across all the generations and how much more so in today’s generation. People crave recognition and praise for their actions and the fact that other people have done the same thing doesn’t matter at all.
It’s the same thing at a college graduation, where thousands of students graduate at the same time. In the crowd, you’ll have parents waiting patiently for hours listening to all the names being called out, just to hear the name of their son or daughter mentioned, despite the fact that there are thousands of other students graduating at the same time.
On Israel’s Memorial Day, the Israeli Army reads the name of every fallen soldier, and we’re talking about close to 24,000 soldiers. Still, families sit by and wait to hear the names of their loved ones.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, had a custom of standing for hours on end giving out dollars for blessings to every individual who passed by, even infants and toddlers. The Rebbe personally acknowledged each individual for every achievement that he or she had achieved, serving as a living example for us on how to relate to people.
Each us of needs to constantly remember to value and hold in high regard every action taken by every person, regardless of how small or insignificant that action may be.
This is the lesson of this week’s Torah portion: If the Torah can “waste” so many verses and repeat over and over the same sacrifices brought by the 12 different princes, how much more so can we follow the Torah’s example and “waste” words of praise and recognition for others.
Rabbi Schneor Greenberg is rabbi of the Chabad Jewish Center of Commerce, JewishCommerce.org.