(Torah Portion Naso) Temptation!

This week’s Torah portion is the largest of all portions. The bulk of the portion gives an account of the offerings and contributions that the princes of each tribe gave to the Temple during the twelve days of its inauguration.

In general, the Torah is very selective in its words. However, uncharacteristically, the offerings and donations of each prince is detailed even though their gifts were identical.

Commentaries point out that the Torah details each individual contribution specifically because they were identical. No prince felt the need to outdo the other. Only the Kavana – thought and intention that accompanied the gift differed, and that was significant to the Almighty.

A thought dawned upon me. In less than a week we will be celebrating the Holiday of Shavuos, which commemorates the Almighty giving us the Torah. Preceding that momentous event, G-d called us, the Jewish Nation, “His kingly, priestly and sanctified nation.” Although in reality we are not all princes, kings, or priests in the colloquial sense, we each carry the title and designation of distinct prominence.

Therefore, when we stand in prayer; whether for morning, afternoon or evening service, we are likened to the princes at the inauguration of the Temple. Each of us is offering and expressing the same set prayers from the Siddur / prayer-book, with no one outdoing another. However, what makes each person’s devotion unique, is the intent and the way we approach and express the prayer.

The Talmud tells us that G-d is eager to see that our hearts are into His service.

Although the actual contributions of the princes were identical during the inauguration of the Temple, not all of the 12 days were of equal sanctity.

The inaugural ceremony began on Sunday, the first day of the week, therefore one of the princes offered a personal sacrifice on the seventh day – the Shabbos, when personal (not communal) sacrifices are prohibited to be slaughtered and offered.

Which tribal prince was selected to offer it on the Shabbos? The Torah tells us that on the seventh day the prince of Efraim/Yosef was selected. Why?

Ba’alai Tosfos explain that Yosef’s descendant was chosen to offer his sacrifice on Shabbos because as the Torah hints to us, Yosef, observed the Holy day of Shabbos while he was away from his family – whether in the capacity of servant or viceroy of the land of Egypt! Therefore Yosef’s descendant merited the unique distinction of offering a personal sacrifice in the Temple on Shabbos.

The Medrash gives us an additional reason why Yosef’s descendant was chosen to offer a personal sacrifice on Shabbos.

The Torah relates that Yosef’s master’s wife tried to seduce him to sin. Yosef told her, “How can I do this huge terrible thing and sin to the Almighty.”

Says the Medrash, “G-d said: Yosef afforded Me honor by not sinning with Potifar’s wife, I therefore swear that I will repay his descendant with the honor of sacrificing a personal sacrifice on My Shabbos!”

The question raised is what is the connection between Yosef honoring G-d by not sinning to his descendant offering a sacrifice on the Shabbos?

Drash V’Iyun explains that the Medrash informs us that the seductive incident between Yosef and his master’s wife actually occurred on Shabbos!

Yosef overcame his strong temptation to sin through fear of the Almighty. The Talmud teaches us that one who conquers and overcomes his temptation to sin is as if he sacrificed an offering.

Thus, since Yosef ‘slaughtered’ his temptation on Shabbos, G-d repaid his descendant with the honor of actually slaughtering his personal sacrifice on the Holy day of Shabbos!

The Talmud further teaches us that one who justly honors the Shabbos, is afforded prosperity, and all the wishes of his heart become fulfilled!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family