Parshas Vayechi

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

אחלקם ביעקב אפיצם בישראל (פרק מט פסוק ז)
Yaakov tells Shimon and Levi that because of their attack on Shechem- when taking revenge on Dinah’s behalf- they will be scattered throughout the Jewish nation. Rashi expounds further that generally Rebbeim and scribes, professions that do not hold a lot of monetary gain, will come from Shimon, and Levi will obtain food through תרומות ומעשרות. These professions will ensure that these tribes remain scattered, always searching for available sources of income. R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky points out that while this seems to be condemning Shimon and Levi, it is also somewhat appointing them as teachers of the Jewish children and protectors of our holy items (as scribes and Kohanim/Leviim). These are positive positions, so why are they being rewarded because of their actions in Shechem? R’ Yaakov explains that Shimon and Levi were clearly passionate about defending Dinah’s honor and felt her pain as if it were their own. While all the brothers seethed at Shechem’s brazen act of accosting her, only Shimon and Levi felt her pain and the family’s disgrace enough to act on it. That is why Yaakov appointed them as the teachers and spiritual guardians of Klal Yisroel. For these roles it is necessary to have people who view any slight against Hashem’s honor as a personal attack. To properly transmit and protect the Torah, the people in charge must be passionate about holiness and unwilling to let any act against Hashem slip by without rectification. Yaakov knew that just as Shimon and Levi felt this way about Dinah, they would be able to apply this trait in their service of Hashem as well.

וידבר יוסף אל בית פרעה וכו’ (פרק נ פסוק ד)
Immediately after Yaakov’s death, Yosef goes to request from Pharoah permission to bury Yaakov in Eretz Yisroel. The פסוק, however, says that he spoke to Pharoah’s household asking that the message be relayed to Pharoah himself. Why didn’t Yosef talk to Pharoah directly? The משך חכמה explains that an אונן (someone who their close relative died but wasn’t buried yet) is not allowed to bathe or adorn themselves in honorable clothing. Therefore, Yosef wasn’t presentable enough to approach a king and he had to speak to Pharoah’s household instead of going to Pharoah directly.

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