In this parsha we learn a lot about the Levi’im (Levites) and the roles they played in the mishkan. (Pop quiz: what did a Levi do between the ages of 25 – 30?) Curiously, however, the parsha does not mention the Levi’im singing. I asked my husband about this, and he said the singing Levi’im must be part of Torah sheBa’al Peh, the Oral Law. He thought there was a hint of it when the parsha says the Levi’im worked the burdensome work up to age 50, at which point they only did the less cumbersome tasks (and one assumes this would be singing – see Numbers 4:47). I did a search on the web and found this about sources of Levi’im singing in the Torah on the Darche Noam website. FYI, my boys and my husband are Levi’im.
On a somewhat related topic, Rabbi Abraham Twerski explains why the tribe of Dan was last. While the Levi’im were up in front carry their parts of the Mishkan, Dan was put at the back. Why? Rashi says their job was to pick up stragglers and lost objects. Here’s a story that Rabbi Twerski relates to explain:
A European Jew consulted his rabbi. His son, who had deviated from Torah observance, had emigrated to America. he became successful in business and was sending his father money. However, since the son was not shomer Shabbos (observant of Shabbos), the father was reluctant to take money which may have been earned on Shabbos.
The rabbi said, “It is unfortunate that your son has dropped observance of the mitzvos. The one mitzvah he is still observing is honoring his father. We may hope that observance of this great mitzvah may have an influence on him to observe other mitzvos. If you refuse the money, you will be depriving him of an important mitzvah.”
Rabbi Twerski explains that Dan was the weakest of the tribes, the one that still had idol worshippers and produced King Yeravam, who caused the secession of the ten tribes. So Dan is somewhat like the wayward son in America. Dan’s good role was in picking up objects and returning them to their owners, and perhaps by doing these mitzvot they would eventually return to being loyal to God. Sometimes doing a mitzvah for a fellow human being can bring one to be closer to God, as well.
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Which brings me to my final topic: Jewish Side, who you can follow on Twitter @Jewish_Side, is looking for her first “real” job post college. She wrote her resume, and she asks, what next? If you have any job hunting tips, you are welcome to leave them in the comments or via Twitter (do @Jewish_Side and whatever you have to say).