Individual Mission for Each of Us
Rebbe Yitzchak of Radvil zt’l (Or Yitzchak) writes, “…the Torah tells us that the nation had flags to help each tribe recognize where their camp was located, just like an army that has flags so that everyone will find his camp. But it can’t be that this is what the flags are about.” In this week's parashah the Torah elaborates on the flags of the Jewish nation. As it states (Bamidbar 2:2-10), איש על דגלו... דגל מחנה יהודה... דגל ראובן מחנה and so on. There are certainly great lessons and meanings associated with the flags; but what are they? The Midrash (Tanchuma 14) states, “Hashem came to Har Sinai with 22,000 malachim who were divided by their groups and by their flags. When the Jewish nation saw them they said, ‘If only we could have flags like them… If only Hashem showed His love to us [by giving us flags].’ … It states (Tehillim 20) נרננה בישועתיך ובשם אלקינו נדגול ימלא ה׳ כל משאלותיך. We will rejoice with Your salvations; with Hashem’s name we will raise our banner. May Hashem grant you all your requests.’ Hakadosh Baruch Hu said, מלא ה׳ כל משאלותיך 'You desired flags, I swear that I will fulfill your requests.’ Hashem immediately demonstrated His love for Bnei Yisrael and He said to Moshe, ‘Make flags for them because they are yearning for them… In the future, I will redeem them in the merit of the flags.” We wonder: Why do the malachim have flags? And why did the Yidden yearn for flags? What special love was shown to them when Hashem gave them flags? Tzaddikim explain that the flags remind us that everyone is different. In heaven, the malachim are divided into four primary groups, which are represented by four different flags. Each camp of malachim serves Hashem differently. Malach Michoel’s camp serves Hashem with love, Malach Gavriel’s camp serves Hashem with fear, and so on. The Jewish nation, too, was divided into four camps, and had four flags, which teaches us that each division serves Hashem differently. The four categories of Klal Yisrael have subdivisions and sub-subdivisions, until it reaches the point where each yid is his own division and he serves Hashem in his own unique, individual way. One shouldn’t consider himself as an insignificant pawn in Hashem's army, because each Yid plays a primary role in Hashem’s service and is given an important mission that only he can accomplish.
People often say, “I wish I could be like that person… If I would be like him, I would serve Hashem so much better.” But everyone must know that he is in the situation that is best for him. Each person is given his personal set of circumstances, personalities, challenges, talents, etc. that he needs in order to recognize Hashem and to sanctify His name in this world. Shevet Levi is comprised of three families: Gershon, Kehos, and Merari, and each family was counted individually. The Midrash (Naso 6:10) states, “After Kehos was counted separately, and Gershon was counted separately… the Torah combines [the total sum] together (and tells us that there were 8580 Levi’im – see Bamidbar 4:46-49). This is so we shall know that Hashem loves them all the same.” The Bnei Yissaschar (Igra d’Pirka 96) explains, “Although Kehos’s work was more exalted than Gerhon’s and Merari’s (as Kehos carried the aron), and Gershon’s service was more exalted that Merari’s (because Gershon carried the drapes that covered , and surrounded the Mishkan), nevertheless, when Merari’s family does the service that is incumbent on them, it is just as special to Hakadosh Baruch Hu as Kehos’s family’s service…" Therefore, there is no reason to be jealous of others. You have potential to do a service that is just as precious as everyone else’s.
The Bnei Yissaschar concludes, "Don’t be jealous of your fellow man, not even with regards to avodas Hashem. Be happy with the mission Hashem gave you… As we say, והאופנים וחיות הקודש מתנשאים לעומת השרפים. This implies that the malachim אופנים aren’t jealous of the higher malachim חיות הקודש, and the חיות הקודש aren’t jealous of the higher malachim שרפים . Rather, the אופנים and the חיות הקודש are מתנשאים, consider themselves elevated and important לעומת שרפים, even when they measure themselves against the higher and more exalted malachim – the שרפים“. The Tiferes Shlomo zt’l explains, if your goal is to serve Hashem, you will be happy and satisfied with the role that Hashem gave you. If your goal is to acquire honor for yourself, you might not be willing to accept your portion. For example, consider a person who works many hours a day to support his family, and he only has one free hour per day to learn Torah. He might think, “I anyway won’t become great in Torah, so what’s the purpose?” However, if fulfilling Hashem’s will is the focus of his thoughts, he tells himself, “This is what Hashem wants from me, and I will do the best I can.” And when he does what is incumbent upon him, he is very precious to Hashem.
Use Your Talents for Hashem
Reb Meir Shapiro was asked to represent the Jewish community in the Polish parliament. Reb Meir Shapiro asked the Rebbe of Tchortkov zt’l whether he should accept this position. This is what the Rebbe wrote to him: “I received your letter and I will tell you my opinion, my counsel: “A person can determine his life’s assignment and the service that Hashem wants from him by paying attention to the talents with which Hashem endowed him. Hashem granted you a sharp mind, the acuity to delve into Torah and to draw out beautiful diamonds, and to teach students… You already have many special students. If you will accept this government position, it will detract from your avodas hakodesh. On the other hand, in this political role as a representative you will be able to do a lot of good for the Jewish community. Therefore, my advice to you is the following: Don’t do any hishtadlus towards attaining this governmental position. And if the Agudah committee asks you to take on the position…accept it.”
The Psikta writes the following: ,כבד את ה׳ מהונך ממה שחננך “Honor Hashem with what He granted you. If Hashem gave you a son, circumcise him. If He gave you a house, put on a mezuzah and erect a gate, maakah, on the roof. If He gave you a yard, build a sukkah there. If He gave you sheep, sanctify the first born and give the first shearing to the kohen. If he gave you an animal...observe the mitzvos of not plowing with an ox and donkey together and the laws of kelayim. If Hashem gave you gold and silver…give a tenth to tzedakah...” And if Hashem gave you a talent, use it for Hashem’s service. As the Midrash states, “If you have a beautiful voice, daven at the amud…” As it states (Mishlei 3:9), כבד את ה׳ מהונך” "Honor Hashem with the talents He gave you.” The Navi (Malachim 1, ch.21) says that King Achav said to Navos the Yizraeli, “Give me your vineyard because it is near my home and I will make it into a vegetable garden. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard. And if you prefer money, I will pay you for the field.” Navos refused. He said, “Chalilah that I should give away my father’s inheritance.” Achav was very upset. “He lay in bed, turned his face to the wall, and he didn’t eat bread. His wife, Izevel, told him, “Go eat bread and be happy. I will get you Navos’s vineyard.” She wrote a letter to the judges that two witnesses should testify that Navos “blessed” (cursed) Hashem. The court complied, and Navos was killed by skilah, stoning. Navos was killed in a corrupt, cruel, and illegal way, yet it is also certain that his death was destined from heaven. As we explained many times, even when a person harms you, it is also from heaven. Nothing happens without Hashem’s word. Thus, it is certain that Navos was destined to die. What did Navos do to deserve the death penalty? Chazal explain that Navos had a beautiful voice. When he was עולה לרגל (to the Beis HaMikdash for the yomim tovim) everyone would gather to hear him sing. One yom tov, he decided that he won’t go to Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash. That time, he didn’t use the special talents of singing that Hashem gave him, for Hashem’s service. Therefore he was punished and killed. As the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei, תתקל״ב) says: “Reb Elazar Hakapar’s nephew, Chiya, had a beautiful voice. Reb Elazar Hakapar would tell him, ‘Chiya, honor Hashem with the talent Hashem gave you. Navos had a beautiful voice, and when he went to Yerushalayim for the yomim tovim, everyone would gather around to listen to him sing. One year, he didn’t go to Yerushalayim, and dishonest people gave false testimony on him and he was killed. Why did this happen to him? It’s because he didn’t go to Yerushalayim to honor Hashem with the talent that Hashem granted him.
It states in the Aseres HaDibros (Shemos 20:6), "Don't carry Hashem’s name in vain, because Hashem will not forgive those who carry Hashem’s name in vain.” The Netziv zt’l explains that this verse is referring to the unique talent that Hashem grants everyone. Some sing well; some are good Torah teachers; some are talented story tellers; and so on. The talent is called שם ה׳, Hashem’s name that is bestowed on the person. The Torah is saying that one mustn’t carry this talent לשוא, for no purpose, because Hashem won’t forgive him for doing so. If you were granted a talent, use it for Hashem’s service.