Towards the end of this week’s Torah reading, to inaugurate the new Mishkan, we find that the Nasi or prince of each tribe on successive days brought an offering on the altar. Reading the description of these offerings we see that they were all alike. Every prince brought a similar offering.
Rashi describes in detail the reason for the particular items in this offering and the meaning of the different parts. As there were twelve tribes, the same offering was brought twelve times. Rashi’s explanation does not address itself to the first offering but rather to the second. Since his explanation applied similarly to each of the offerings why did he not explain the first one but instead waited for the second one?
A Chassidic Rabbi explained that although the first prince certainly had a reason for what he offered we would think that the second prince simply imitated the first without any input of his own. Hence Rashi explains the second offering to imply that it wasn’t a mere imitation but he had his own reasons for bringing the same things.
When we emulate something that someone else did it should not simply be an imitation but we should contribute our own interpretation. It should have particular meaning for us. Simply mimicking someone else is not an expressive act.