Nasso Much

Categories: Naso, Parsha

Art by Sefira Lightstone


This week’s Parsha (Nasso) discusses the end of the census and teaches various laws. It also discusses the inauguration of the Tabernacle, detailing the offerings brought by each of the tribes. Curious that each offering was identical and yet each was described. (For more on this, please see my thought from last year!) At the end of it all, the leaders of each tribe brought their own offerings—their contribution to this cause, if you will. In doing so, they brought it all together. So what was this monumental donation, you may ask? Half a wagon per leader; or six wagons in total, that were used to transport the walls of the Tabernacle for travel.
That’s very sweet. Certainly practical and nice but what really happened here? We have the leaders of each tribe, wealthy, powerful folks who are making their “major gifts” to the “campaign,” and that’s all they can muster? Come on leaders, step up!
The famous joke is told about the rabbi who needs to make an appeal for the synagogue’s new roof. “I have good news and bad news,” the rabbi begins. “The good news is that we have all the money needed for the new roof. The bad news is it’s all in your pockets!”
So why the minimal gift?
The answer teaches us something special. Sure, there are times to be especially generous. There are also times to be conservative. What their contribution teaches us is that nothing should ever be wasted. There is no reason to donate as much as possible if all that is really necessary are six wagons to transport. Sure, they could have figured out what to do with more wagons, but the lesson of the day is that we need to utilize what we have to the utmost. Sure, it’s virtuous  to be generous, but it’s also virtuous not to be wasteful. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned! Good Shabbos!

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