One of themes of Parshat Midbar, is the idea of “Tafkid,” having a role to play. This is related to the various roles of the Levite tribe.

Aside from their responsibility of maintaining the Mishkan, and participating in Temple service, they were also charged with the carrying of the Mishkan. On very short notice, they needed to dismantle or reassemble this portable Beit Hamikdash.

This task was divided by Divine instruction, between the three Levite families.
The Kehat Family was given the job of carrying the holy vessels of the Mishkan. This included the Holy Ark, the Altars, the Menora, and a few other items.

The Merari Family were given four wagons to transport the forty eight beams, that served as the walls of the אוהל מועד, Tent of Meeting. And the Gershon Family were responsible for the curtains and partitions of the Mishkan.

Unfortunately, Korach was not satisfied with his position, even though it was the most honorable. He was a descendant of Kehat, and could have even been honored with carrying the Aron Kodesh. This was not enough for him.

There is a Gemara that describes how it is remarkable how Hashem places in the hearts of the general population, that they choose all of the occupations necessary to keep society going. Some are craftsmen, and others are professionals. Somehow, the needs of the general population are met.

It is our challenge as individuals, to fulfill our Tafkid in this world. It might very well be that we have more than one Tafkid. There has to be a reason for living. Realizing and fulfilling our role, might be our ticket for a long life.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at