1.

The construction of the MishkanTabernacle — was followed by a seven day period of inauguration which began on the twenty-third day of Adar. Each day for seven days Moshe erected the Mishkan, performed the entire service himself, and disassembled it when the service was done. The inauguration period climaxed with the consecration of Aharon and his sons as Kohanim on the eighth day — Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

On that day, in honor of the momentous event, the Torah relates that “they [the Nessi’im — princess — (tribal leaders) — brought their offerings before Hashem; six covered wagons and twelve oxen — a wagon for each two leaders and an ox for each” (7:2). These were to help the Levi’im transport the Mishkan and its parts during journeys.

Originally, Moshe was hesitant to accept the wagons. He thought that the Levi’im were to carry all parts of the Mishkan on their shoulders, including the very heavy kerashim and amudim — planks and pillars — whereas, the princess felt that the wagons should be used for that purpose. Hashem, however, ordered Moshe to accept their six wagons and twelve oxen, and apportion them to the Levi’im according to the difficulty of their work. Thus, four were given to the Merari family and two to the Gershon family.

The Rebbe, in Likkutei Sichot, (vol. 28, p. 40), raises some intriguing questions about the contribution of the Nessi’im. The generosity of Bnei Yisrael in their donation of materials for the construction of the Mishkan was extraordinary. As the craftsman told Moshe, “The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which G‑d had commanded to do” (Shemot 36:7). In contrast, the donation by the princes of the tribes, “six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon from each two princes, and an ox from each one,” seems very meager. Why did each of the princes sponsor only half a wagon on his own?

The question is even more troubling considering the purpose of the wagons, namely, to assist the Levi’im in transporting the Mishkan and its parts. Knowing the tremendous amount of items requiring transportation, why did the princes limit their donation to a mere six wagons, barely enough to do the job?

The Gemara (Shabbat 99a) relates that twelve kerashim — planks — were on each wagon, piled three high (or twenty four lying across two wagons). A Levi would walk behind the wagons to assure that the upper ones would not fall. Should they begin to slip he would run into the narrow space between the kerashim to adjust them. So in lieu of cramping it all onto the six wagons, why were the Nessi’im not more extravagant? Moreover, Hashem told Moshe to accept their offering of the six wagons. Why did Hashem not tell Moshe to add some additional wagons to facilitate the work?

The Rebbe offers a beautiful explanation: Evidently, for the wagons to achieve their status as components of the Mishkan, it was necessary for every wagon to be critical to the Mishkan’s service. Our Sages taught, “Of all G‑d’s creation, not one thing was created without purpose” (Shabbat 77b). Certainly then, in the Mishkan, the G‑dly purpose achieved through every component must be clear and manifest. If any of its components were unnecessary or underutilized, the integrity of the Mishkan would be compromised.

Therefore, the princes’ donation was limited to six wagons, no less, but no more. Since the task could be completed with six wagons, to spread the load over more than six would mean that each of the wagons was not being used to its fullest potential.

Based on the pasuk (Shemot 25:8) “And they shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell betochom — in them — [in lieu of betocho — in it),” the Shelah (Sefer Shnei Luchot Habrit, by Rabbi Isaiah Haleivi Horowitz) derives that it is incumbent on every Jew to make his own miniature Sanctuary (himself), that Hashem should dwell in.

Thus an important lesson is learned from the contribution of the Nessi’im — only when all our potentials and talents are utilized fully in their Divine purpose(As it states, “I was created only to serve my Creator” [Kiddushin 82b]) — is the home we make for G‑d truly complete.

My dear Bar Mitzvah, using one’s potential properly and fully applies in every facet of life. One must utilize one’s mental faculties for assiduous and diligent Torah study. One must employ one’s talent in spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit in the fullest measure. Hashem has given man a day consisting of twenty-four hours. Even when one properly utilizes twenty-three hours and fifty-nine minutes for “good purposes,” he must still take care not to waste the final minute of the day.

My berachah to you, my dear Bar Mitzvah, is that you use the great potential Hashem blessed you with to be a Chassid, yirei Shamayim — G‑d fearing Jew — and lamdan — Torah scholar — in the fullest measure.


2.

This week’s parshah is the longest in the Torah: it consists of one hundred seventy six pesukim. (Incidentally, our Bar Mitzvah boy read it masterfully.) It discusses a series of topics, but the major part, eighty nine pesukim, is devoted to the offerings brought by the Nessi’im – princes — of the tribes in honor of chanukat hamizbei’ach — the dedication of the Altar — which was anointed on Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

To commemorate the great event each Nassi brought an elaborate offering. The Midrash Rabbah explains that though on the surface, the offerings seem to be identical, each alluded to a special mission of its tribe, so that each was unique in its spiritual essence. This is why the Torah describes each one’s offering specifically.

After having listed the twelve offerings individually, the Torah tallies them together and lists the total of all the silver bowls, basins, ladles and the total of each type of animal. Pasuk #84 begins, “Zot chanukat hamizbei’ach beyom himashach oto” — “This was the dedication of the Altar on the day it was anointed.” Then in summation, four pesukim afterward, the Torah says “Zot chanukat hamizbei’ach acharei himashach oto” — “This was the dedication of the Alter after it was anointed.” Superficially, this seems contradictory. The first pasuk, #84, indicates that their inaugurating offerings took place on the day of the anointing, while the later pasuk, #88, seems to imply that it took place on some later day?

Rashi makes note of this distinction, and goes on to explain that there are two messages being imparted: the phrase beyom himashachon the day it was anointed — teaches that a prince brought an offering on the very day that it was anointed (actually, each Nassi came with his offering on the first day, and on that day he was assigned a day when his offering would be brought on the Altar — Ramban) and “acharei himashach” — “after it was anointed — teaches that first the Altar was anointed, and afterwards (at a later time on the day of the anointing) a prince brought an offering.

My dear Bar Mitzvah, while Rashi’s clarification renders a halachic insight derived from the change of terminology, permit me to share with you an important moral lesson.

It is common for people to cherish something new. As time passes, however, the novelty often proves short-lived. For example, a boy becoming Bar Mitzvah often begins putting on his tefillin with excitement and lofty intentions. As he grows older, unfortunately, it becomes a daily routine, and even while wearing his tefillin, he gives them little attention.

When people buy something new, such as a car, clothing, etc., they are very excited over it and the minutest scratch on the car or stain on the clothing affects them immensely. As time passes, and the newness of the items wanes, so does the excitement and concern.

On the day of a great joyous event, people are determined that they will remain true to the teachings it represents, but the sad truth is that most such resolutions peter out with time.

On the day the Altar was anointed, everybody was in high spirits. The Torah is telling us that not only were they in great spirits “on the day the Altar was anointed,” but that even “after it was anointed,” it did not lose its newness, but was cherished with the same love and awe as on the first day.

Today is a jubilant event in your life; you are becoming a full-fledged adult member of Klal Yisrael. Undoubtedly, you have made lofty resolutions to achieve the Rebbe’s berachah to be a Chassid, yirei Shamayim — G‑d fearing Jew — and a lamdan — Torah scholar.

My berachah and the berachah of your parents, relatives and friends, is that your resolutions and your love for Torah and mitzvot not be limited to “beyom himashach oto” — “the day of your anointment” — your Bar Mitzvah day, but continue on with the same vigor and strength also “acharei himashach oto” — in all the years that are ahead of you.

May you always practice and express the same dedication, admiration and love for Torah and mitzvot. This will make you a valued asset to Klal Yisrael and a source of Yiddish and Chassidish nachas to your family and Klal Yisrael.