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Friday, January 1

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

This past Sunday, 12 Teves, was the 13th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Joseph Schechter of Ner Yisrael. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yoseif ben Eliezer Z'ev.


Just before he passes away, Yaakov delivers a charge to each of his sons individually. Some of his words speak to the individual traits of the children as well as some of the challenges they have already faced. However, as expounded upon by Targum Onkelos, much of what Yaakov delivered to his children – blessings or otherwise – was a prophetic glimpse into the future of each child's progeny, based on his strengths. These prophecies were, for the most part, of a communal, tribal nature. For example, he spoke of Yehudah being the perennial tribe of royalty and Zevulun dwelling along the coast. There is one glaring exception – the blessing for Dan (49:16-18). Spanning a number of pesukim, it seems to be focused on one individual – Shimshon.


In examining why Dan's blessing seems to deviate in this way, it is certainly noteworthy to point out the unique circumstances of Dan as reported in last week's parsha. Indeed, it is a point very commonly dwelt upon in a mussar context. While most of the brothers built sizeable families, Dan had but one son, Chushim. And yet, by the time we reach the census in Bemidbar, Dan has become the second most populous tribe. (Although, in truth, as a son of Yaakov, Yosef had more.) Dan and Chushim teach us to never underestimate the potential of a single individual.


With his beracha to Dan, Yaakov was indicating that this will be the hallmark of his tribe – the great power that can be wielded by just a single person. And this why the prophecy is focused on Shimshon alone as he would be the manifestation of that trait generations down the line. I later saw this idea expressed in Sha'arei Aharon, quoting Marpei Lashon and Yalkut Ruveini, citing other members of the tripe of Dan who exemplified this trait throughout history.

Chazak, chazak, venischazeik!

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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