Friday, 30 May 2014

Nasso: Putting the 'Nation' in DoNATION

Parashat Nasso is the longest single parasha. Therefore there is a lot covered. Some parts we discussed enthusiastically. Some, like Sotah, I do not discuss with the girls at all.
The first topic we discussed at length is the Nazir. After explaining this voluntary commitment and what it entails, I instructed the girls to make a chart.

On one half they wrote Nazir and wrote what was expected of him. They spent some time describing different ways he could not consume grapes.
In the second column I asked them to write 'Bat Torah' and what they felt was required to fulfill their role as someone who embraces the Torah. The first thing they listed was 'no killing'. I suggested they think not just about every person, but a special person, like them.

Next I explained how the nesiim, the tribal leaders, donated wagons and oxen for transporting the Mishkan. Last year we made wagons. This year we had wheelbarrow races, which is somehow similar.

After the wagons and oxen, the leader of each shevet [tribe], donated:  one silver dish, the weight thereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver basin of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meal-offering; one golden pan of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb of the first year, for a burnt-offering; one male of the goats for a sin-offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs of the first year.

Each tribal leader donated the exact same thing to the Mishkan. But their donations are each listed separately, taking a large section of the text. If the Torah had a human editor, they would have circled it and said, "Repetitive!" But only Hashem wrote the Torah and clearly he had a reason to repeat this information so many times. I believe it is to proclaim to the nation then, and for all times, the importance of donating. Donating your money, time, resources, and anything else is wonderful. Each donation that is made is valuable in its own right, and thus proclaimed individually, with the name of the donor repeated. 

After reading almost the same text to the girls over and over I asked them to recite it back to me. It was a fun memory game. They could really only recount the first part, up to fine flour and oil. 

"Should we donate like the shevet leaders?" I asked. 
"Uh, yah, but we don't have big silver bowls and we don't have the Mishkan anymore," Cohava seemed confused at the selection.
"We could give it to the synagogue instead," Gabi suggested, since we substitute the Mishkan with the synagogue. 
"What would they do with the flour and oil?" I inquired.
"Make Challah!" Gabi cheered (she has just become adept at braiding and is very proud).
"And food for kiddush," Cohava added. 
"Very true. But I think there is enough food in the kitchen. Where else could we donate?" 
"JFS!" Gabi yelled. This year Gabi's class has worked hard this year to collect food for Jewish Family Services' food bank. "We should donate oil and flour to the food bank!"
"Gabi, that is a great idea!" We discussed flour versus favorite flour products and eventually had a shopping list.
I bought 12 identical bottle of oils, and various flour items. The girls were responsible for sorting and packing. They took great pride in the activity. We didn't have silver bowls to use. Brown bags had to suffice, but eventually all twelve were packed. 

We loaded it into the car and unloaded it at school in the morning. But carrying twelve bags was too hard for us. Thankfully we saw many 'shevet leaders' walking into school and each carried a bag. The students were very enthusiastic to take part in the mitzvah transport and were intrigued by the connection to the parasha. The teachers were thrilled by the donations for JFS. JFS will be please to stock the food. Whoever needs the food will be relieved to get it. The 'whole nation' benefited from our do'nation'. 

Shabbat Shalom!

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