Midreshet Amit


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Your Future is in Your Hands

By: Mrs. Miri Kwalwasser

The end of Parshat Vayichi presents Yaakov Avinu's farewell speech to his sons. Here, he addresses each of his son's individually in an attempt to tap into their unique character traits and capabilities as well as define the different roles of each tribe within the nation. In the case of Shimon and Levi, he addresses them as "achim" (brothers) and points to the destructive force of their partnership. He is referring to their rash response to the rape of their sister Dina, where they- led their brothers in a deceitful revolt against the people of Shechem (Parshat Vayishlach). It seems that it was Shimon's and Levi's zealous character coupled with their strong leadership qualities that prompted and enabled them to commit this act. Although Yaakov was not in favor of what they did, perhaps he was empowering them to maximize their potential and use their unique abilities in a productive, positive way. So what becomes of these two tribes? If we look in Sefer Shemot and Bamidbar we see that Levi elevates himself by channeling his strengths toward fulfilling the will of Hashem. The tribe of Levi demonstrates its zealous leadership on a few occasions. At the Sin of the Golden Calf, this tribe was the only one not to participate, and Hashem then calls upon them to avenge his anger against the people that sinned. Shimon, on the other hand sinks even lower by using his leadership qualities to steer the Jewish people toward sin as seen in the behavior of Zimri Ben Salu who was the leader of Shevet Shimon. The ultimate contrast between the two tribes is portrayed in the face-off between Pinchas and Zimri, where Pinchas, a descendant of Levi, kills Zimri in the midst of his immoral act in front of the nation. Shevet Levi is eventually appointed to serve in the Temple and function as the spiritual leaders of the nation and, thus, proved itself worthy of leadership.

Yakov Avinu's message to his descendants is a very poignant one. Each one of us has God given talents and strengths. We can choose what to make of ourselves and our future. Hashem should give us the strength and guidance to follow Levi's example by maximizing our abilities and using them for a lofty purpose.