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.