Friday, June 5, 2009

Lessons of Nachshon

Having now undergone a full week of unemployment, my mind is level-headed enough that I am forcing myself to do things properly: I daven first thing in the morning, learn when I'm bored, think before I say a beracha about whether I need to use negelwasser, etc. etc. So I actually have a tidbit to share. Pre-Shabbos. Amazing, eh?

When mentioning the offerings that the leaders brought, Ohr Chachaim brings down two interrelated points concerning Nachshon from the tribe of Yehudah:
  1. He is only indicated as a leader in the introduction.
  2. He is the first to go and provide offerings.
As for the first point, Ohr Chachaim explains that it alludes to Nachshon's supreme modesty/humility, which leads in turn to the second point. Hashem had indicated to Moshe that the leaders should bring their offerings individually, on separate days, in the order of the tribes formations (see It's The Company That You Keep). By extension, that Nachshon came first combined with his great humility demonstrates that the reason for this ordering is in fact his personal merits. When a person provides an offering to Hashem, not only does Hashem consider the physical offering- He also considers the offering of the person themself, namely their spiritual level.

Since physical offerings can vary based on one's material means, I wanted to reiterate a point that I feel relevant to our lives today. Throughout the millenia, the level of prosperity amongst individuals has varied based on what Hashem deems is the requirement for the particular individual. Some people require much in order to feel secure enough to serve Hashem properly, while others do not. More importantly, if one is blessed with wealth from Hashem, the recipient must use that wealth appropriately, aka to serve Hashem by doing for the community. Thus, if one enjoys material prosperity, it is because that person cannot serve Hashem fully otherwise. The money/property in turn becomes the vehicle for the person to learn to value what they have and to help their fellow Jew. One without such material blessings is one who does not need to learn this lesson.

And some from Nachshon's humility and personal merit, we are reminded that all that we have is all that we need, because in the end, Hashem values what we have spiritually above all else.

Good Shabbos!

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