This week’s Torah portion has the narrative of Yaakov’s blessings to his sons before his death. Each one of the sons gets a unique blessing. Yaakov finishes the blessings and the verse says [49:28] “all these are tribes of Yisroel, twelve” Blessings come when we acknowledge each other and join together and respect each other, when we realize we are all (not just our own sect) tribes of Yisroel. Sefardim, Ashkenazim, Chassidim, Misnagdim – all of us are a part of our nation. Shalom is the vessel in which blessings can reside. Without peace amongst us, without respect to our fellow Jew, the blessing is heading into a sieve. We have to acknowledge all our brethren.
But there is a caveat: [v. 29] “Each man like his blessing he blessed them.” Each person in the world is unique. We all have different jobs and different talents. Our goal should never be to be someone else, but to realize our own strengths and talents – and to figure out our own mission in Hashem’s work. Shalom, peace, does not mean trying to be identical with the next person. It is acknowledging that the next person is just as important as us, but has a different job. Think of an orchestra – there is the pianist and the flutist. They play together. But they wield different instruments and tones. That is why Yaakov gave each one of the Shevatim/tribes his own unique blessing, for each one of us has a different role to play in this orchestra called Bnai Yisrael.
Now, I’m going to focus on something that is said in Shevet Dan’s blessing. Yaakov hints to the future leadership of Shimshon HaGibbor, Samson who single-handedly was able to beat our enemies. And Yaakov calls out [29:17] “Leeshoo’uhscha keeveesee Hashem – for Your deliverance I’m hoping Hashem.” Rashi says this refers to G-d hearing the last prayer of Shimshon, which was “Zachreinee Nah..ach ha’pa’am Hazeh – please remember me this last time” for Shimshon wanted to deal a last blow with his death to the enemies of our people. Even though he was hurt and maimed, even though his eyes were gouged out, he wanted to, at least once more, wipe out our oppressors. And G-d allowed him to have that last burst of strength, whereby Shimshon pulled down the marble pillars and crushed himself, along with the enemy’s troops and judges to death.
Rabbeinu Bachya gives us, however, a further insight into this verse and these words of Yaakov. As Yaakov sees this mighty warrior Shimshon and prays for him, at the same time, he ends it off with “for YOUR deliverance” we are hoping. Yes, we applaud all the strongmen who have stood up to fight for our nation. But that is not our “tikva” hope. HaTikva is all fine and good, but that is not our Tivka. Yaakov, refocuses us, that what we really want, what we really need, is G-d Himself to deliver us and help us. We want, straight, direct intervention. Just as G-d did for us in Egypt, taking us out, fighting our enemies “Anee ve’loh Malach, G-d personally, so too, do we pray and yearn, beg and plead, “Leeshoo’uhscha keeveesee Hashem – for Your deliverance I’m hoping Hashem.”
And for a musical rendition (and cute video presentation) on those words, you can go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz2yUaR_c0A. My only issue with the video is that when G-d helps, it is way easier than that — you don’t even have to haul yourself up with a rope, you get lifted, like a babe in the arms of your Protecter.