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June 09, 1995 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-06-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Nothing Is Routine
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•11 ■ I

t the end of every movie is
a long list of names and job
descriptions that flash
across the screen. Most of
us feel that when they 'roll the
credits' that it's time to walk to
the car.
It gets interesting when movie
makers add a couple of line of di-
alogue or little extra bits of action
while the credits are flashing just
to bring us back... perhaps just
to make us notice that it takes a
lot to make a production and
there are more than just the stars
In the chapters that precede,
Aaron and the priests have stood
center stage in all of their finery.
There is no question who the
stars of this story are and they
are presented with all of the flour-
ish that made the mystery of wor-
ship so marvelous. Nasso is the
Torah's version of the rolling of
the credits. It's giving us the de-
tails and the real 'behind the
scenes' story of the sanctuary.
The commentators come into
the picture and like the Holly-
wood trailers; they bring us back
with a series of life lessons that
the wise and the wary should
never turn their back on.
The first lesson it teaches is
that even though some of the nit-
ty gritty of life's work goes unno-
ticed and is a bit routine,
unglamorous and even dull—
without it there would be no such
thing as a sanctuary or a service.
All the people who did the little
things made the big things pos-
Just like the Temple, the best
things in life don't just happen;
you have to work for it. Life can
be a delightful slide as long as we
keep dragging our sleds back up
the hill. The infantile believe that
life always has to be exciting. Ma-
turity comes when you realize
that sometimes to get to the big
time or even to do something spe-
cial, it doesn't always just come
to you; it's not always exciting—
sometimes you have to work and
work hard.
The second lesson one learns
from this laundry list of labors is
that there is usually enough work
to go around and the intelligent
organization realizes that every-
body should be kept busy doing
it. The rabbis teach that people
who have reached their goals un-
derstand four things about hu-
man nature. First and foremost,
that the work of the world does
not wait to be done by perfect peo-
ple. Second, when people are in-
volved they become committed.
Third, those who have done noth-

ing are usually sure nothing can
be done. And finally, people who
are busy rowing seldom rock the
The third insight this biblical
list of credits gives us is that no
one is too big to do the small stuff.
The task of putting the holy ob-
jects together and taking them
apart wasn't assigned to the
"shleppers." It was given to the
B'nai Miarari, the Gershuni and
the B'nai Kihat, all of them part
of the priesthood. The question
the commentators ask is why this
drudgery was given to the aris-
tocrats of our people? The answer
is simple—if the cause is impor-
tant, if the mission is sacred then
the people who carry it out have
to know that what they're doing
is important and that whether
the job be major or menial they
have to do it.
I am sure that some biblical or-
ganization chart listed who didn't
carry their share of the load. As
Robert Frost said, "The world is
full of willing people: Some will-

Shabbat Nasso:
Numbers 4:21-7:89
Judges 13:2-25.

ing to work, the rest willing to let
them." I was once told that the
membership of any organization
is made u of four bones: There are
the wishbones who spend all of
their time wishing someone else
would do their work. There are
the jawbones, who do the com-
plaining but very little else. Next
come the knucklebones who
knock everything that everybody
tries to do. Finally there are the
Backbones who get under the
load and do all of the work. The
interesting thing is that in this
particular portion the list of slack-
ers and where they were assigned
goes blessedly unrecorded.
It is as if it is trying to teach us
that the true test of any institu-
tion, whether it be business or
faith, is not how many leaders it
has but how many are willing to
share the load. For those who are
committed to a cause there is no
such thing as work that is be-
neath them.
I have students who tell me
that Nasso is one of the more
pedestrian passages in the Bible.
"After all," they complain, "It's
just a list." If you read between
the lines, you will find this list to
be a road map to success. ❑
Dannel Schwartz is rabbi of Temple
Shir Shalom.


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