Cheery Reprimands by Daniel Weintraub


In this week’s Parasha, Yaakov blesses all of his sons on his deathbed; however, Shimon and Levi do not receive their anticipated Berachot, but are sharply reprimanded instead.  While Yaakov blesses the other brothers with prosperous rewards, like Yehudah’s royalty and Yissachar’s scholarship, he reprimands Shimon and Levi for their outburst against Shechem.  Why are they not bestowed a Berachah?

In reality, Yaakov did not deprive Shimon and Levi of their blessings, but in fact assigned them a very critical blessing, one that would facilitate their participation in Bnei Yisrael’s formation.  During the Shechem incident, Shimon and Levi had shown their dark and violent sides. At face value, these dangerous traits seem a detriment to Bnei Yisrael’s formation. Shimon and Levi knew their shortcomings; therefore, the new prospect of losing their opportunity to partake in building the Jewish nation upset the two brothers.  Yaakov did not punish them; rather, he encouraged them to continue their struggle of overcoming their dark sides.  When Yaakov states that Shimon and Levi’s “weaponry is a stolen craft” (Bereishit 49:5),  he means that their dark sides were literally stolen traits and not part of their original beings, encouraging them to overcome their stolen traits to make them equal to their brothers.

In everyday life, we are often overcome with remorse for our past misdeeds.  Ruminating only makes us depressed and heart-broken, like Shimon and Levi were.  But if we realize that our misdeeds are not part of out intrinsic selves, but rather stolen traits, then we, just like Shimon and Levi, will be able to improve ourselves.

-Based on a Devar Torah by Rav Naftali Reich

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