In Parashat Naso, the sons of Kehat – Levi’s grandchildren – carry such a burden on their shoulders that Moses does not assign to them anything to schlep for the dedication ceremony of the Mishkan. The great Hasidic master the Kotzker Rebbe says about avodat kodesh (holy work), “A sacred responsibility rests on our shoulders, and not a moment passes without our awareness of its gravity upon us. As sacred and heavy as it may be, it is crucial to our existence.”
The avodat kodesh of campus work is a sacred burden. What weight is so important to you that you wish others would help carry? How many of us feel the sacred burden to carry something that is equally if not more important to someone else?
We need to work to balance our different burdens because, ultimately, we have equal worth. This is expressed in the identical ritual offerings we see each tribe bringing to the dedication of the altar in the Mishkan. Twelve tribes over twelve days bring exactly the same gifts. The only change we see in the duration of the text is the name of each tribe and its chief. Why? The ritual moments of our tradition are available to everyone. Everyone should be included in carrying the load and we work better when we carry the weight together.
Rabbi Rafi Cohen is the director of Jewish student life at City College of New York (CCNY) Hillel. Daniel Blumenthal Hoffman is the rabbinic student intern at CCNY Hillel.