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Dvar Torah - Naso 5784

At the end of the parsha, the Torah lists the offering of each of the twelve tribes. Although the Torah catalogs the identical offerings of each of the twelve tribes, there is a subtle difference. The Torah states (Bamidbar 7:18-19) “On the second day, Netanel ben Zuar offered (הקריב), the leader of Yissachar. He brought his offering (הקרב)…”.  Only with the offering of Netanel does the Torah state “he brought his offering.” For all the other tribes, the Torah simply identifies the leader of the tribe and then states “His offering was…” Why did the Torah deviate for the tribe of Yissachar from all of the other tribes, and use the verb הקריב (offered) two times? Moreover, Rashi states that the tribe of Reuven came and contested the order of the offerings. The tribe of Reuven, the oldest brother, felt that it should be the second tribe after Yehudah to bring its offering. Moshe responded that Hashem himself designated the order and desired the tribe of Yissachar to go second. Why did Yissachar merit to present its offering second?


Rashi explains that the repetition of the word הקריב indicates that there are two reasons why Yissachar should bring the second offering, instead of Reuven: (1) That the tribe of Yissachar was knowledgeable in Torah; and (2) because the tribe gave advice to the leaders of the other tribes to bring these particular offerings. The question is, why did the Torah need two reasons. We know that the mitzvah of learning Torah is knegged kulam, is equivalent to all other mitzvos. That alone should have been enough of a reason for Yissachar, who had superior knowledge of Torah, to merit bringing the second offering. Why did the Torah need to indicate that Yissachar also gave advice to the other tribes, implying that this second reason is equivalent in importance to Torah knowledge?


However, we see from here the great importance of giving sound advice, which is a form of chesed (loving kindness). Rabbeinu Yonah writes in Shaarei Tshuva (the Gates of Repentance 3:54) that giving sound advice to another is one of the fundamental ways of performing acts of kindness. When people face difficult circumstances, it is an act of kindness and thoughtfulness to provide them with advice on what to do. Therefore, the fact that Yissachar was superior in its Torah knowledge was not enough of a factor to warrant its placement after Yehudah. Torah without chesed is not indicative of special merit. Yissachar’s special merit was combining its superior knowledge of Torah with loving kindness of the other tribes. Hashem built the world on kindness (Psalms 89:3). When we infuse our lives with a constant awareness of doing acts of loving kindness, we are imitating Hashem himself and helping to build a better world.

--Rabbi Avraham D. Garber


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