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What tribe are you from?

Tuesday, 28 March, 2017 - 10:43 pm

Often locals tell me they are surprised that they never knew of a Jewish custom and are thankful that I share it with them. 

Today (Tuesday 3/28/17) was  the first day of the Hebrew Month of Nissan, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, in the desert 3,329 years ago. There is a Jewish custom that from today until the 12th of Nissan we read the portion of the Torah (not from a scroll) that talks about the gifts and sacrifices that each tribal leader brought on behalf of their tribes.

Following the reading a prayer is said; "May it be Your will, L-rd my G-d,... that if I, Your servant, am of the tribe of _______, the Torah section of whose prince I have recited today, then may there shine upon me all the holy "sparks" and all the holy lights which are contained in the holiness of this tribe, ...."

Imagine, if someone would call you every day and say, "I am unsure about something, so if... then can you...." Normally, we do not do that. Yet, for 12 days straight we say a prayer asking G-d to shine upon us the sparks of the tribe "if I am from the tribe".  Additionally, those who know which tribe they are from (like a Kohen and a Levite) also say this prayer.

Can you see the beauty of unity and difference simultaneously?

On one hand, each person has their unique tribe that they belong to, to the exclusion of the other tribes, and their way of serving G-d. For example: Reuben through sight; their keen sight and insight allow them to see the depth hidden beneath the surface. Simeon through hearing; they listen, hear nuances and experience how these details fit into the whole.

On the flip side, we are all part of one people, one family. While my main connection to G-d may be through "sight", I am also able to tune in to "listen" and serve G-d that way as well.

What we are in essence saying with this prayer is: If I am from the tribe of ____, let my primary way of serving G-d shine through me. However, if this is not my tribe, being it is my family, let that path to G-d not remain completely hidden. There is beauty in diversity and beauty in unity. A beautiful picture is when you have diverse colors shining and complimenting each other on the same canvas.

If you want to say this prayer over the next 12 days: http://harfordchabad.org/media/pdf/1007/zpdf10071461.pdf - a link to the 12 days in a pdf.

Have a great week,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

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