This Shabbat we will read the Torah Portion “Va’Yechi” in the book of Genesis.
The Torah portion of Vayechi closes the book of Be’Reshit Genesis.
In this portion Jacob blesses his children – the twelve tribes, in his last days.
As the verse tells us:
וַיִּקְרָא יַעֲקֹב, אֶל-בָּנָיו; וַיֹּאמֶר, הֵאָסְפוּ וְאַגִּידָה לָכֶם, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-יִקְרָא אֶתְכֶם, בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים
And Jacob called to his sons, and said: “Gather together, that I may tell you what will happen with you in the end of days.” (Gen. 49:1)
These blessings have much to teach us. Each of the twelve sons representing the twelve tribes receives a unique blessing, which reflects a unique path in life.
As the verse tells us at the conclusion of the blessings:
כָּל-אֵלֶּה שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר; וְזֹאת אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר לָהֶם אֲבִיהֶם, וַיְבָרֶךְ אוֹתָם–אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר כְּבִרְכָתוֹ, בֵּרַךְ אֹתָם
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel… every one according to his blessing he blessed them. (Gen. 49:28)
What is the meaning of the words –
every one according to his blessing?
‘Blessing’ – ברכה Be’racha in Hebrew also means to ‘draw down’ from the root ‘mavrich’).
For instance the word ‘Knee‘ – ברך – Berech in Hebrew has the same root as Blessing – Be’racha.
People usually receive a blessing when they kneel down.
The Hebrew root ברך (blessing) consists (as usual) of 3 letters.
The unique quality of this root is that the numerical values of its letters are multiples of 10:
2 (for the letter ב),
20 (for the letter כ)
200 (for the letter ר)
The Midrash in the Holy Zohar tells us that the Creator chose to start the Torah with the letter ב,
and not with any other letter, because it is the first letter of the word ברכה – blessing.
Although united as a nation of the People of Israel consisting of the twelve tribes, every one of the tribes has his particular path in life, his specific entity and essence which is to be manifested in the material world.
According to the Midrash, even when the Red Sea was parted, it was split into twelve paths, providing a separate path for each of the twelve tribes.
Based on Yaakov’s blessings, these twelve paths could be perceived as follows:
- Reuven – The First
- Shim’eon – The Aggressor
- Levi – The Cleric
- Yehudah – The Leader
- Dan – The Judge
- Naphtali – The Free Spirit
- Gad – The Warrior
- Asher – The Prosperous One
- Issachar – The Scholar
- Zebulun – The Businessperson
- Joseph – The Sufferer
- Menashe – Reconnection
- Ephraim – Transformation
- Binyamin – The Ravenous Consumer
There is a lot to be said about each and every path, but now we would like to point out the unique path of Yehudah.
Thus, Yehudah combines two essential qualities:
1. Be able to admit / acknowledge wrong deeds (as was in the case of Tamar).
2. Be able to express gratitude for all, which is received in this world.
These are the qualities of a true leader, and Yehudah is indeed a leader of the People of Israel.
Judah represents the path of selflessness – the most vital ingredient in true leadership.
And Yehudah’s descendants would be the kings of Israel, beginning with King David and concluding with Messayah – Mashiach.
Also, the name of the people of Israel eventually turned to be Yehudim – יהודים, because of the same exact qualities.
Yoel & Orly
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