Wagon TrainBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
On the day the Moshe erected the Tabernacle (way back in parshas Pekudei, Exodus chapter 40), the leaders of the Tribes approached him, wanting to give gifts to the Mishkan. They brought six wagons and twelve oxen. G-d instructed Moshe to turn the gift over to the Levites so that they might use the oxen and wagons when it was time to transport the Mishkan. Moshe gave two-thirds to the family of Merari, who carried the “pipe,” and one-third to the family of Gershon, who transported the “drape.” The family of Kehos didn’t need any wagons because they were responsible for the furniture of the Mishkan, which had to be carried. (See II Samuel chapter 6 if you want to see what happens when the Ark is transported by a wagon – it’s not good!)
The leader of each Tribe had his own gift to present, offerings to be brought on the altar. G-d told Moshe that they should take turns, one per day, in order to dedicate the altar.
Each leader presented an identical gift of silver bowls, one filled with fine wheat flour mixed with oil, a gold bowl of incense, a bull, a ram and a sheep (for a burnt offering), a goat (for a sin offering), and two oxen, five rams, five goats and five sheep (for a peace offering). In this aliyah, this offering is presented in turn by the leaders of Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, Reuben and Simeon.