In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Naso, the Torah describes the donation that the leaders of the 12 tribes brought for the Mishkan, the portable temple that traveled with the Jewish nation throughout their sojourn in the wilderness. In all, the leaders donated 12 cattle and six wagons. These wagons and cattle were used to transport the heavy beams of the Mishkan whenever the Jewish camp would travel to a new location.
The Talmud, in the tractate of Shabbos, comments that the Levites, who supervised the construction and transportation of the Mishkan, would run in between the wagons to stop the beams from falling off. The beams were piled high on top of each other, and it was always necessary to safeguard against falling beams.
This begs the obvious question: If the leaders of the tribes knew how many beams there were for the Mishkan, would it have been so hard to have donated a few more wagons and cattle, making the life of the Levites a little easier?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that everything in the Mishkan served a purpose; there were no extraneous components. The same can be said regarding these wagons; if there would be even one more wagon or one more cow, they would be superfluous. Yes, they might have made the job of the Levites less stressful. However, if they were not absolutely essential to the Mishkan, they were not desired.
Here, the Torah is teaching us a powerful lesson. G-d gave each of us unique strengths and talents. At times, we may view certain aspects of our personality as extraneous. We do not see the purpose to this side of ourselves. We do not see the practical application of a particular talent. However, we must constantly bear in mind: Just as there were no extra wagons for the Mishkan, so too, none of our talents or skills are superfluous. Each can and must be used in the service of our fellow man and of Hashem. pjc
Rabbi Shneur Horowitz is the director of Chabad Lubavitch of Altoona, Pennsylvania.