Print This Post Print This Post

Which is more important, the bottle or the water?

Written by

“Take a census of the sons of Gershon, as well, following their fathers’ household, according to their families.” (22:4)

The commentators note that the words “as well” appear to be redundant. After all, since Hashem had previously instructed Moshe to count the sons of Kehas,[1] we automatically know that now He is instructing Moshe to count the sons of Gershon, that they are to be counted “as well.” As always, the Torah’s perfection and limitless teachings justify the question: What are we being taught from these seemingly superfluous words which stress that also the sons of Gershon are also to be counted?

Whereas the sons of Kehas had the privilege of carrying the holy Ark, the sons of Gershon were “only” entrusted with carrying the seemingly less significant curtains, coverings and screens of the Mishkan. As such, answers Rav Moshe Feinstein, the Torah stresses that the sons of Gershon are to be counted “as well” as the sons of Kehas, meaning that they are to be counted together — in the same way — for they are equally fulfilling their unique purpose. And even though carrying the fabric of the Mishkan involved less fanfare than the holy Ark, it was no less crucial in any way.

Everyone is created differently: physically, mentally emotionally, and spiritually. Our strengths and weaknesses are different from one another, as are our experiences and struggles. As such, our success in life cannot be determined by being compared to those around us. Our only measurement to determine success is whether we could have done better based on our own potential.

To illustrate this: Reuven and Shimon are carrying bottles of water. Reuven’s bottle has the capacity to hold half a liter, and his bottle is filled right to the top. Shimon is holding a bottle that can hold two liters, but it is only filled half-way. Whose bottle contains more water? Reuven’s; because he is carrying a liter of water. But whose bottle is “full”? Shimon’s; even though he is only carrying half a liter. The same is true with all of us, we each have different skills, tools, resources and limitations.[2] Our goal, however, is to take our bottle, whatever the size, and fill it to top, for this is the only factor that determines our success.

[1] Bamidbar 4:1.

[2] See Sefer Chasidim, 162.

Leave a Comment