Rabbi Yonah Burr
Naso: The Crown that Belongs to All of Us
By Rabbi Yonah Burr
וידבר ד' אל משה לאמר נשא את ראש בני גרשון גם הם Count the heads of the family of Gershon also
The Kli Yakar asks: Why does the Torah say to count the family of Gershon "also"? Is there perhaps any reason to think that they should not be counted?
The Medrash explains that since Gershon was the firstborn, we would have expected them to be counted first. Instead, the family of Kehas was given precedence due to their role in carrying the Aron and the other holy vessels of the Mishkan. Because of this, the posuk instructs that they not be skipped altogether; they should be counted as well.
However, asks the Kli Yakar, this just begs the question: if Gershon was the firstborn, why, indeed, was Kehas' family given the privilege of carrying the Aron?
The Kli Yakar answers that the Torah is highlighting a beautiful lesson:
It Belongs to All of Us
The Crown of Torah belongs to all of us. Unlike the Crown of Kehuna, which is granted at birth to those in its lineage, or the Crown of Royalty, too worn exclusively by its progeny, every single Jew is heir to the Crown of Torah. We each have the right, and, indeed, the obligation, to learn as much as we can, and to become as great as we can. By tasking the sons of Kehas with carrying the Aron, which represents the Torah, the Torah seeks to discredits the notion that Torah is somehow the right of the firstborn. On the contrary, everyone has the equal opportunity to learn and to maximize their potential.
At the same time, the family of Gershon was counted as well. This teaches us another lesson. Everyone’s role is important; everyone counts. The family of Kehas carries the Aron, but there can be no Aron without the rest of the MIshkan. We all contribute, and we all matter.
Perhaps this was the mistake of the Nesi'im; they confidently waited until everyone else donated, complacent that their position guaranteed them a prestigious part of the Mishkan. In the end, there was nothing left to donate except for the stones of the Kohen Gadol’s breastplate and apron.
May we all merit to develop our own potentials to the fullest, in addition to benefiting from the collective talents of all, for the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!