Many times in life, it is a challenge to find motivation. We have to work hard at jobs that seem repetitive and lack meaning. When we can't see the vision animating our activity, we feel like hamsters spinning an exercise wheel for no purpose.
Our parsha this week has just such a moment. When the Israelites inaugurate the Mishkan, the princes of the tribes must bring a series of sacrifices. Strangely, each brings the same exact animals and all are treated the same way. The offerings represent the full array of sacrifices brought in the Tabernacle and Temple for that day. However, why must they all perform the same act of worship?
Two lessons arise from this strange phenomenon. The first is that sometimes the routine, the repetitive and the same are the most important. By repeating something old, we learn spiritual lessons and strengthen systems that we love. In Judaism, we believe that the search for novelty is not always positive. Sometimes there is more to be found in the familiar.
The second is that actions can have additional meaning even when we all feel like we're doing the same thing. Nachmanides tells us that each prince understood his offerings differently, even though they were the same. When we approach a traditional act or anything in life, we can imbue it with our own meaning should we choose to. This is particularly true of religious acts.
We live in a society where we are constantly encouraged to try new things, change, and grow in new and unforeseen directions. The lesson of the princes' offerings is that we should sometimes double down on what we already know and do well.