When we dedicated the temple the Torah tells us that each leader of the twelve tribes brought an offering to the tabernacle to celebrate its inauguration. Each of them brought the EXACT SAME offering, yet the Torah goes into detailed description of each one.
The exact same words 12 times!
For a book that prides itself that not even one letter is there extraneously- we must ask ourselves why the repetition?
This is not just a question about the Tabernacle, this is the fear that we often have about living a Jewish life as well. How can it be that we all have to keep the same 613 commandments and yet still be individuals? Same thing over and over. I don’t want to be a robot, the same as the person next to me!
The insight into the offerings can offer us an idea into our lives as well.
The Maharal teaches that if you take the physical characteristics of the human face, each person has the same attributes i.e. one mouth, one nose, two eyes etc. However each person based on his or her own background, parents, genes – ends up looking very different.
Although each tribe brought the identical gift physically, the thoughts and intentions accompanying each offering differed widely. The structure is there to ensure we can function best – then personalise and excel like only we can. Externally the same, but internally the reflection and reasons are as different as could be. On the outside it may look the same – while internally wildly and uniquely individual.
By Moshe Mayerfeld, Aish Center, New York