Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vayechi

Hearing The Call

By Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig

Prior to Yaakov's demise he summoned his sons to him to offer each a personal message. For most of his sons the message was a blessing, a focus on the unique strengths and positive attributes each son had utilized to grow spiritually, and should continue to exploit after the Patriarch's death. The notable exception to this structure was the message Yaakov left with his sons Shimon and Levi, "Shimon and Levi are comrades, their weaponry is a stolen craft. Into their conspiracy, may my soul not enter! With their congregation, do not join, O my honor!" (Beraishis/Genesis 49:5-7)

By calling them "comrades" Yaakov indicated that neither one of them was more of an instigator or follower than the other. It is, therefore, peculiar that the results of the rebuke which they both received equally were completely different for each of them. Levi became the progenitor of Moshe, Aharon, and Miriam, our greatest leaders. His descendants stood up for the will of G-d following the Sin of the Golden Calf and earned the right to represent the entire nation serving G-d in the Bais Hamikdash.

Shimon's progeny, however, were not nearly as admirable. His most famous descendant was Zimri ben Sallu who caused 24,000 of his fellow tribesmen to sin with Midianite women and die in a plague (which was stopped by Pinchas, a descendant of Levi).

Rabbi Shimon Schwab (1) explains that the radical differences in their descendants are rooted in the way Shimon and Levi reacted to Yaakov's rebuke. Levi used the rebuke to spark a deeper level of repentance. He did not merely regret his previous misdeeds; he took several positive steps to change and improve. Thus, his descendants who followed suit became our greatest leaders.

Greatness of character is not exclusively the result of natural abilities and ideal circumstances. Rather, it is significantly the result of harkening the wake-up calls - from our mentors as well as the ones Heaven sent - and capitalizing on the opportunities that present themselves.

Have a Good Shabbos!

(1) 1908-1995; student of the great Mirrer Yeshiva and Rabbi of congregations in pre-war Germany and Baltimore, he is renowned for his leadership of the German-Jewish community in Washington Heights, Manhattan from 1958 through the end of the 20th century


Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig and Torah.org.

Kol HaKollel is a publication of The Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish Studies 5007 West Keefe Avenue Milwaukee, Wisconsin 414-447-7999


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Reaching Greatness: Living in the Land of Israel
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5775

Count Us If You Can
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Reaching for Perfection
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

An Uplifting Experience
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

I 'Na' Know...
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

I Believe
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

ArtScroll

Freedom of Man
Shlomo Katz - 5760

The Kindness Factor
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Keeping Focus
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Exile and Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Go Away!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Avraham Foreshadowed Self-Sacrifice To Make Aliyah
- 5768

> Take the Initiative!
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Environmental Hazard
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Jews On the Move
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

The Unique Level of Avraham
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information