Israel Forever

For the week ending 26 May 2007 / 9 Sivan 5767

Concerns of a Leader

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
What does a true leader think of when he serves as a representative of his people?

This question finds a subtle answer in this week's Torah portion. With 176 verses this is the longest portion in Torah. It is so lengthy because a good part of it is devoted to recording the gifts made to the dedication of the Mishkan Santuary by the heads of the twelve tribes. Although each one gave exactly the same items, the Torah records each gift separately.

We are aware that everything in the Torah teaches us volumes, and that a great deal of information is often hidden in a single word or letter. Why then did the Torah allot so much space to the repetition of the contents of each gift?

One resolution of this mystery offered by Ramban based on a midrash is that although each head of a tribe gave the identical gift, the thought that went along with each gift was different. Each tribe in Israel had its own particular mission and the shape and weight of each gift symbolized the nature of that mission as if to invoke Heavenly assistance in carrying it out.

At a time when an entire nation is recoiling from the revelation of corruption in high circles as a result of leaders being concerned about their own interests rather than those of the public they are supposed to serve, the message of this week's portion should serve as a reminder of what sort of leadership is needed to secure Israel forever.

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