Parshas Nasso continues the theme begun in Parshas Bamidbar with the setting up of the society of the Jewish People. After discussing the order of encampment in last week’s parsha, this week we move on to the consecration of the Mishkan, the literal and figurative center of Jewish life in the desert. Over the course of twelve days, the nassi of each shevet had the opportunity to bring a korban consisting of silver, incense, animals, and other items. And upon the completion of the twelve days, the Mishkan was open and ready for business.
In the parsha immediately preceding the korbanos of the Nesi’im, we are introduced to one of the most famous blessings in Judaism, the Birkas Kohanim, the series of three blessings given by the Kohanim to the Bnei Yisrael. The brachos go as follows, “יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ. יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ. יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם" “May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.” (Bamidbar 6:24-26). There are many ideas bound into these blessings, which are perhaps the most special blessings we have in Judaism.
The Kli Yakar mentions several ideas, two of which we will focus on this week. The first is how each bracha seems to indicate an even closer relationship level with Hashem. In the first bracha, He promises to watch over us, in the way any sworn protector will watch over his charge. In the next bracha, it says Hashem will shine His face towards us; meaning, not only will we have the protection of Hashem, but we will have that (figurative) face-to-face connection that is appropriate of close relationships. Finally, Hashem will lift His face towards us, meaning, He holds us above even Himself, and dedicates Himself to our well-being.
The second point to focus on is why the korbanos of the Nesi’im immediately follow these brachos. The Kli Yakar explains that it all comes down to the conclusion of Birkas Kohanim, the culmination of all three brachos, the final mention of peace. These brachos show us the path Hashem will lay for us on the road to complete blessing, ending with peace, the greatest blessing of all. Without peace, the Birkas Kohanim is incomplete. Therefore, the immediate narrative is that of the Nesi’im bringing their korbanos, which exemplified peace among the tribes. Without any signs of jealousy or competition, each Nasi took their own day to consecrate the Mishkan, and even brought the same exact korban! They felt no need to outdo the other. They showcased the commitment of the entire nation to establishing the Mishkan, a home for Hashem among them, built on complete unity.
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