| Parshah |

Parshas Naso: The Power of One

The greatest mistake in life is to think of yourself as insignificant, not to appreciate that you are G-d’s personal ambassador to the world


“On the seventh day, the nasi for Bnei Ephraim, Elishama ben  Amihud.” (Bamidbar 7:48)


he nesiim for each shevet began offering their contributions on the first day of Nissan, a Sunday. Thus, the nasi of Shevet Ephraim brought his offering on Shabbos.
The Midrash Rabbah asks: Personal offerings are not allowed on Shabbos; only communal korbanos are permitted. The nasi of Ephraim was bringing his personal offering, bought with his own money. How can he bring it on Shabbos? 
The answer the Midrash gives is enigmatic. Ephraim descended from Yosef.  When the brothers of Yosef came to him in Mitzrayim, it was Friday, and Yosef told his servants to prepare all the food in advance for Shabbos. Yosef is the first person before Matan Torah who is described as preparing ahead for Shabbos.  In this zechus, Hashem said that Yosef’s descendant will bring his offering on Shabbos. 
Yet this is still strange. Wouldn’t a more appropriate reward be if Yosef’s descendant wouldn’t  bring a korban on Shabbos? Furthermore, all the Avos kept the Torah before it was given. What made Yosef unique? (Rabbi YY Jacobson, TheYeshiva.net)

My neighbor just bought a professional five-piece drum set for her son.  As I admired the tom-toms and kick drum, I suddenly pictured Dina, her trademark huge smile on her face, providing the background rhythm to our high school choirs year after year.  Dina had been a professional drummer in a secular band, and when she turned toward a more frum lifestyle, she still found many avenues to share her music. A skilled tap dancer, she taught many of us the techniques of kicking and brushing, not an easy feat (feet?), despite Dina making it appear that way. We girls loved her, and Dina shared her love with everyone.

When Potifar’s wife continually tried to ensnare Yosef, Yosef was about to succumb to sin. Suddenly Yosef envisioned the visage of his father, Yaakov, and he fled. Why did the image of Yaakov cause him to deny temptation?
The Talmud says that the beauty of Yaakov reflected the beauty of Adam Harishon.  When Adam ate from the Eitz Hadaas, an apparently insignificant action,  this minuscule act altered the course of the world. This teaches us that  every single human being’s action impacts the whole world.
When Yosef  saw the visage of Yaakov, which reflected the visage of Adam, he remembered  this concept, that he was not just one man. His actions affected the world.  This gave Yosef the fortitude he needed to withstand temptation. This is also how he kept Shabbos all alone in Mitzrayim, because he recognized  the power of one man’s decisions.

Sadly, Dina never married and never had children, but she used her natural warmth for  chesed. She started a service for expectant mothers who had no one to watch their kids when they’d go to the hospital. Often this happened late at night, but that never deterred Dina. Yet she realized that for little kids, waking up in the night and finding some stranger there instead of their mommy would be very scary. So she’d visit the family several times  before the mother’s due date, spending time with the kids and giving them presents and treats. That way, if they found her in their home some random morning in the future, they’d be happy to see “Tante Dina.” This service expanded to a whole organization, helping many mothers.

Now we can understand the Midrash. We learn from Yosef that one individual impacts  the entire world. The greatest mistake in life is to think of yourself as insignificant, not to appreciate that you are G-d’s personal ambassador to the world. You are never alone, and you are never merely one small individual. So, Hashem says, when it comes to Yosef’s offering, it’s not an offering of a private citizen; it’s an offering of the entire nation. Hence, it can be offered on Shabbos.

It’s been many years since Dina succumbed to an illness that took all of us by surprise. She was so full of life and energy that we couldn’t imagine her not defeating this challenge with her typical verve and zest.

Yet as I stood at the fresh kever on Har Hamenuchos, I was felled by the loss, the gap that now existed in so many people’s lives. She was only one person, but a soul who had managed to share herself in so many ways. Tante Dina, you’re still missed.

L’iluy nishmas Dina bas Leon


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 895)

Oops! We could not locate your form.