Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Yesterday throughout the world everyone was talking about the front page of The New York Times: a densely packed list of a thousand names of coronavirus victims in the United States with a short sentence describing each of the deceased. A few lines written above the list informed us that these thousand individuals were among the hundred thousand US virus victims and that their loss is immeasurable: “They were not simply names on a list. They were us.” Without huge headlines, without graphics and without photos this front page shocked many people.
This week’s Torah portion, parashat Naso, is the longest Torah portion in the Torah. The reason for this is that the parasha describes 12 times in succession and in great detail the many gifts brought by the chieftains of the 12 tribes for the inauguration of the Mishkan (sanctuary). Even though the gifts of the tribes’ chieftains were all the same, the list of gifts was repeated verbatim 12 times. The commentators explain that the parasha is extended not because of the storyline, but because of the attention given to the individuals involved. Even if each of the chieftains did the same thing, each one of them found different meaning in what he did since the perspective of each was unique. We can find here a desire by God that each and every one of us deserves our own valued place since we are all uniquely significant – that each of us is an entire world.