Rashi (8,2) points out the juxtaposition of the end of parshas Naso which concerns the korbanos of the Neseeim at the Chnanukas Hanesseim and the beginning of parshas B’haaloscha which deals with Ahron lighting the Menorah in the Mishkan. The meaning of their connection is that at the time Ahron found out that the Neseeim all brought their korbanos and he and his Shevet were not included in the inauguration, he fell into a low spirit of missing such a grand opportunity. Hashem, therefore, appeased him with the special mitzvah of lighting the Menorah.
The question arises why wasn’t Aron included with the Neseeim in the Inaugural sacrifices? The answer is that these Neseeim possessed a merit which they acquired during the slavery in Mitzrayim. They were appointed in charge to ensure that the Jewish slaves would fill their daily quota of creating bricks. When the brick construction quota became impossible to fulfill since the new decree which required them to now collect their own straw from the fields and still come up with the same numbers, the task of the police was to punish and whip them with intensifying pressure to attain the goal. These foremen had compassion on the brethren and instead of flogging them, they were the ones who were lashed by the Egyptian police who employed them. As a reward, they were given the privilege to partake with the Inauguration sacrifices. ( Bamidbar 7,2 Rashi) They sacrificed their bodies for the bodies of their brethren therefore they merited to offer the sacrifices for the Mishkan.
Examining the titles that the Torah gives to these leaders of Klal Yisrael we see נשיאי ישראל נשיאי המטת הם העומדים על הפקודים – leaders of Yisrael, leaders of the tribes, they who stood by the census. Why before mentioning the sacrifices does the Torah feel it necessary to give these titles especially “leaders of the census” which did not take place until a later period (Bamidbar 1,4)? One can explain that all the titles are referring to the merit of the Neseeim why they played a role in the Inaugural sacrifices. They were the נשיאים of Yisrael. The word נשיא is the acronym נשמת ישראל שורש אלהות they realized that every Yid possesses a neshama which is mamesh a חלק אלה ממעל. In the highest source, there is a place called כנסת ישראל where all the neshamos are one and inseparable. Therefore the root of every Yid is oneness with each other. From this stems the mitzvah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך love your friend as yourself because he is really you and you are really him being compared to a hand of one’s body. It is only when the neshamah descends into the lower worlds it takes on its unique characteristics and kochos.
Realizing this they took upon themselves to suffer willingly beatings at the hand of the Egyptians rather than to persecute their brethren. This willingness to suffer for others is hinted in the words נשיאי המטת the word מטה also means staff and stick. They were willing to be beaten for another Yid. In what situation? In the scenario of the פקדים which means accounting and also missing. They were the foremen in Mitzrayim to ensure the daily completion of the brick quota and when the numbers were missing they were beaten instead of their brothers.
Shevet Levi was not enslaved to do labor in Mitzrayim (Shmos 5’4 Rashi). Therefore Shevet Levi was not appointed as foremen over the slaves. Therefore they were missing the opportunity unlike the other Neseeim to sacrifice their bodies for another Yid. It was for this reason that they were omitted from the sacrifices of the Mishkan on its Inaugural day.
If one asked you for a knee jerk answer who would you consider an “outstanding individual” what might your answer be, a great philanthropist, a tzadik, a gaon talmid chacham, a big Askan? The gemarah (Makkos 22b) gives a very clear answer to this inquiry.
אמר רבא כמה טפשאי שאר אינשי דקיימי מקמי ספר תורה ולא קיימי מקמי גברא רבה דאילו בס”ת כתיב ארבעים ואתו רבנן בצרו
Rava says how foolish are people that they stand up for a Sefer Torah but do not give the same kovid to a Gavra Rabba who interprets the Torah. The following example is given. The Torah writes that a person who transgresses a serious offense receives forty lashes. The Rabbanan come and say the Torah only meant thirty-nine and they remove one lash. This gemarah poses two difficulties. One, why did they change titles of first calling the individual to give equal kovid to with the name gavrah raba and later called him Rabbanan? Secondly, why did the gemarah choose this example to show the license and accuracy of the Chazal to interpret the Torah, when there are so many hundreds of examples. For instance, the Torah says to sit in a Succah or to keep Shabbos and the Chachamim came along and compiled a Mesechta of Halachos on these two mitzvos.
The answer to both questions is that Chazal want to define for us who is the real Gavrah Rabba and outstanding individual. Not necessarily the gaon or tzakik or the philanthropist but rather the individual who alleviates pain and worry from another Yid. The Neseeim are exemplary in being the Gavrah Rabba. Even the gematriah attests to this as גברא רבה with the two words and kollel equal הנשיאים.
There is a famous story of the Tzanzer Rebbe the Divrei Chaim that took place at his chasunah. As his Kallah was peering out the window of her room she saw her chassan descending from the wagon with his parents and was shocked because he had a limp. She broke out crying hysterically and refused to go to the Chuppah with a physically defected individual even though he was a world talmid chacham. Her parents couldn’t calm her down and the future father in law went over to the chasun to relate to him what had occurred with his now distraught daughter. The Tzanzer Rav asked to have a few words alone with her. He entered her room and began speaking to her that Chazal say forty days before a person is born the shidduch is presented in Shamayim. I merited to see this vision forty days before you were born. I also saw that you unfortunately were destined to be born with a defected leg. I felt so sorry for you and your future suffering that I fasted and davened for you that your defect should become mine instead of yours. Baruch Hashem I see that my fervent tefillos were answered.
Can we be such Gavrah Rabbas like the Nessiem and the Divrei Chaim? I don’t really think so. But to relieve the pain, suffering, and worrying of others we can surely fit in those shoes. Once we understand that our deepest connection to Yidden is in the highest place in Shamayim, it makes it easier to concern oneself with more unfortunate situations in Klal Yisrael. Sometimes one can relieve pain by merely listening to their plight, helping with a problem, helping with homework, making a phone call to individuals who because of a virus are stuck in their homes and are lonely or they can’t go shopping for their needs. These are little sacrifices of time, energy, positive and encouraging words. This is the way to become a gavrah rabba and become a Mishkan in which Hashem will dwell in just as we found by the Neseeim.
Rashi brings the Chazal that Hashem told Aharon that his lighting of the Menorah is greater than the Neseeim’s Korbanos. In what way? Maybe we can apply the explanation of the Chofetz Chaim ztl on the words of the Mishna ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם. He interprets this to mean in an analogy. There are two Yidden, one is learning in the Bais Medrash and the other is walking on the street. Suddenly he sees a Yid having a heart attack and being trained in CPR he resuscitates the Yid and he returns to normal. Chazal say on such a person כל המציל נפש אחת מישראל כאילו הציל עולם מלא
That saving one Yid’s life is equal to saving an entire world. Yet the Yid who was not aware of what was happening at the same time that he was learning is still greater. Obviously one must stop his learning for Pikuach Nefesh. However, in this scenario there was no obligation to save a life, yet he still is greater than the one who actually saved a world. The answer is that every word of learning constantly saves the world from destruction. Saving a life is כאילו deemed as if you saved a life. Learning Torah is actually saving lives and the world.
The Menorah symbolizes Torah Sh’bal Peh. Ahron lighting the Menorah also lit the hearts of Klal Yisrael to be fired up to learn Torah with a geshmak and enthusiasm. His mitzvah is therefore a greater one than the Neseeim who sacrificed themselves to save Yidden by being beaten in their place. Torah learning is life itself not just an act of preserving life.