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Each of the first twelve days of Nissan, one of the tribal leaders, the “nasi,” offered inaugural sacrifices in the Tabernacle. We recite the section which describes the sacrifices of that day’s nasi. On the thirteenth of Nissan we read about the kindling of the menorah—the contribution of the tribe of Levi.

The “Nasi”

The “Nasi”

For Nissan 1–13

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Mosaic depicting symbols associated with the Twelve Tribes of Israel
Mosaic depicting symbols associated with the Twelve Tribes of Israel

The portable sanctuary built by the Israelites in the Sinai Desert—known as the Mishkan or “Tabernacle”—was inaugurated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan of the year 2449 from creation (1312 BCE). Beginning on that day, and continuing through the first twelve days of Nissan, the tribal leader—the nasi—of each of the twelve tribes of Israel brought inaugural offerings as the representative of his tribe.

It is our custom to commemorate the Mishkan’s inauguration each year by reading, on each of these twelve days, the verses from the Torah which describe the offerings of that day’s nasi. These verses are traditionally read after the morning prayers, but can be recited anytime throughout the day.

The reading is followed by a brief prayer, in which we say: “May it be Your will, L‑rd my G‑d and G‑d of my fathers . . . that if I, Your servant, am from the tribe of ——— whose section of the nasi I have read today in Your Torah, may all the holy sparks and holy illuminations that are included within the holiness of this tribe shine upon me, to grant me understanding and intelligence in Your Torah and my awe of You, to do Your will all the days of my life . . .”

On the thirteenth of Nissan we read the totals of all the sacrifices, and then read about the kindling of the Tabernacle’s menorah—the contribution of the priestly tribe of Levi (which was not counted, for this purpose, among the 12 tribes). The “May it be Your will . . .” prayer is not recited on this day.

Click below for the full text of the nasi readings and prayer.

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Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org March 18, 2013

Missed days Each days Nasi is connected to that specific day, as such if one missed a day they should not recite the brief prayer that follows the reading. As for the reading itself, it would seem that if one wishes they can read it the same way one would read any other verses of the Torah. Reply

לינזי חיה אסתר שיינה בני ברק March 16, 2013

ברוך השם! What's the answer to Dov's question, because I missed days too! : ( Also, will you please link this page to the daily study? Reply

Dov Stamford, CT March 27, 2012

Missed days. In a case like this, where I did not know of the custum until day 4, is is proper to "make up" for the skipped days, or just start from day 4? Reply

Bentzion Apel Reseda, Ca March 16, 2010

The Nasi Because the Tabernacle was set in place by Moshe Rabbeinu on the 1st of Nissan and during the first twelve days each of the tribal leaders--the "Nasi" of each of the twelve tribes of Israel brought inaugural offerings as the representative of his tribe.
What is not clear about it? It is all in Torah. At the same time, the Torah does not relate explicitly on the building of the two Temples, for example. Reply

Anonymous March 16, 2010

Why? Why do you commemorate this? is it the custom of all jews? many other historical events, even the building of the two temples, are not marked? Reply

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