Entitled to Titles by Gavriel Epstein


Parashat Naso elaborates upon the Korbanot brought by the Nesi’im of the respective Shevatim during the inauguration of the Mishkan. When Sheivet Yissachar’s turn arrives to bring Korbanot, the Torah states, “Hikriv Et Korbano,” “He brought his offering” (BeMidbar 7:19), spelling the word “Hikriv” without the letter Yud. Rashi (ad loc. s.v. Hikriv Et Korbano) explains that Reuvein complained that, as the firstborn, he should at least be the second tribe to offer its Korbanot (after Sheivet Yehuda, the tribe from which kings will be born). Reuvein demanded the honor that he felt was entitled to him. The missing letter Yud changes the word to “Hakreiv” “bring,” which transforms the Pasuk to a commandment from Hashem to Yissachar to bring Korban first, as Yissachar was humble and unconcerned with immaterial titles. When summoned by Hashem, Yissachar accepted the honor and brought the Korban. A Midrash related to the upcoming holiday of Shavu’ot conveys a similar message: when Hashem needed a mountain on which to present the Torah, the tallest and most beautiful mountains demanded this special honor. Although Har Sinai was initially too humble to make such a claim, she was eventually willing to present the Torah when Hashem told her to do so. While we should not run after exalted titles and honors, we must be prepared to rise to the challenge of leadership should the opportunity arise.

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