Torah Reading Portion Vayechi
Rabbi Avraham Brandwein
With the help of Heaven
In our Torah Portion, our father Jacob blessed his sons, before his death.
At the end of the blessings in Chapter 49 verse 28 (of Genesis), the Torah
concludes, All these are the tribes of Israel, twelve (of them), and
this is what their father (Jacob) spoke to them and blessed them, each man
according to his blessing, he (Jacob) blessed them. Rashi says, He
blessed them; The verse should have only said, Each man according
to his blessing, he (Jacob) blessed him; what is the Torah trying
to teach us by saying, He (Jacob) blessed them? But since
he (Jacob) gave (in the blessings) to Judah the strength of the lion, and
to Benjamin the wolfs ability to grab, and to Naftali the swiftness
of the deer, you might think that Jacob did not include all of the
brothers in all of the blessings, therefore the verse says, He
(Jacob) blessed (all of) them (with all of the blessings). (This
concludes the words of Rashi.)
We need to understand; why was it not enough for each tribe to get (just) their
own blessing, that they also needed to all be included together in every blessing?
Furthermore, if so, (that they are all included in every single blessing), what
is the difference between one (of the tribes) and another?
In order to understand this matter, we need to explain the Law of Inclusion. In
the wisdom of Kabbalah, we find that (all things) in existence are divided into
four levels, which are called 1) inanimate, 2) plant, 3) animal, and 4) speaking
(man). These are four levels, from the lower to the higher. The difference between
them is in this: that the lowest (exiting matter) has less properties (in its
composition), and therefore it naturally has less needs, and consequently it
also has less movement. Therefore, we see that man, who belongs to the category
of the speaking (level), his souls properties are the greatest, and consequently
his needs are the greatest, and likewise his movements are the greatest, for
he is able to travel across the entire globe of the Earth. And in our times,
even the globe of the Earth is insufficient, and (man) wants to fly to the stars
The conclusion is: that man is the most developed creation out of all created
matter. Naturally it is understood that all of the properties, especially the
soul aspects of all of the other created matter, must be included in man,
because man develops (all of) the created matter and humanity.
There is another rule: Whatever is more highly developed, will be slower in its
formative process. Therefore we see that an animal, on the same day that it is
born, it already stands on its feet and continues so until the end of its days.
This is not the same by man. At the beginning (as a baby) he lays there like
an inanimate object. Afterwards he crawls, and thereafter he walks and sits,
Especially with regard to the soul-related properties, man has the power of thought
and judgment. Therefore, he cannot (just) have a single property (to his composition),
but must be included from all of the properties (of all creation), since he needs
to know and judge when to behave with (differing aspects like) the attribute
of lovingkindness, and when with sternness, when with speed, and when with patience,
and at times even with a mixture of attributes.
These levels of inanimate, plant, animal, and speaking (man) are also found in
people. For example, a person, who does not have a great desire, does not have
needs. Therefore, he is considered at the level of inanimate matter, and so on.
These are the causes why Jacob, in the end of the matter, blessed all of
his sons, that all of the properties (of the blessings) should be included in
each of them. This is as is written in Ethics of the Fathers, Judah the
son of Teimah say, Be strong like a lion, run like a deer, be mighty as
a leopard, and light as an eagle. Animals, since they do not have
the role of refining the world and developing it, they have one (significant)
property (in their makeup), which is central only to maintaining their own existence,
to obtain sufficient food for themselves, and to protect themselves from other
predators. This is not the case by man. All properties (of created matter) must
be included in him, from the reason mentioned above, (that man has to develop
and refine all of created matter and humanity).
(So what distinguishes one tribe from the next?) The difference between one tribe
and the next is that each one had a main property (in their makeup). For example,
Judah was compared to a lion, which is the attribute of Strength and war, but
he also had the properties of compassion and love. However, (Strength) was the
main property unique to him. When one behaves with the proper attributes (of
behavior) according to proper logical judgment, this is the true blessing, that
it is possible to develop humanity and bring blessing to the world.