Thursday, December 15, 2011

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Vayishlach and Vaishev 5772


Vayishlach and Vayaishev 5772

In pashat Vayishlach two sons of Ya’akov, Shimon and Levi, took center stage when they destroyed the evil inhabitants of Shechem. In parashat Vayaishev all the sons were active participants, except for one.

Reuven tried to save Yosef, Shimon and Levi initiated the idea to act against Yosef and his dreams of grandeur, Yehuda suggested they sell Yosef into slavery and all the others played a part, if only in concurring with the act of betraying their brother.

One son had no role in the entire episode, and in fact appears to be a nonentity in the politics of the family, Binyamin. His father kept him at home, not even permitting him to join his brothers in caring for the sheep. And even in parashat Miketz where Yosef demands that the brothers bring Binyamin to him, Binyamin had no active role. And indeed not one utterance of his is recorded in the Torah.

But as time progressed, Binyamin’s position in the affairs of Am Yisrael changed from passive and inactive to one of disunity and great shedding of Jewish blood.

At the end of the book of Shoftim (Judges), we read of the tragic, ruthless and brutal civil war that was incited by the tribe of Binyamin. It is called the episode of Pilegesh Be’Givah - the Concubine in the city of Givah.

In this civil war, untold numbers of Jews from among the other eleven tribes of Yisrael were killed, and at the war’s end, we find that the tribe of Binyamin was nearly eradicated, with a mere 600 men surviving, with all the other men, women and children of Binyamin were killed in the battles. In light of the misery that the tribe of Binyamin had wrought on the nation, each tribe who had participated in the battle vowed not to marry with anyone from the tribe of Binyamin.

When the attempt to regenerate the tribe of Binyamin began, the nation’s elders brought 400 young women from the city of Yavesh Gilad, whose citizens did not participate in the fighting nor in the vow against marriage with the tribe of Binyamin. This left 200 men of Binyamin without wives and without the chance of being given a wife from the other tribes because of the vow they had taken.

When this problem came before the elders of Israel, they found a solution. There was a yearly event in the town of Shilo in which the young women who had reached marriageable age would dance in the vineyards in the hope of finding eligible young men to marry. Now since the wording of the vow that was taken by the nation was that they would not give their daughters to the tribe of Binyamin, it was reasoned that it would be permissible for the remaining 200 fighters of Binyamin to "kidnap" the young dancing woman for purposes of marriage. The ruling was accepted, and each of the unmarried 200 men of Binyamin found a wife from the girls of Shilo.

As we read in the Book of Samuel, HaShem informed Shmu’el HaNavi (the prophet) that on the following day a young man from the tribe of Binyamin would come to him, and He directed Shmu’el to anoint this young man, whose name was Shaul ben Kish, as the first King of Israel. Shaul was one of the 200 of Binyamin to have found a wife among the daughters of Shilo.

Two questions:

1- Why did HaShem raise a soldier from the smallest, least active, and problematic tribe of Binyamin, to the exalted position of first King of Israel? Indeed that negated the promise that the monarchy would be divinely presented to the tribe of Yehuda, from which stemmed the family of David!

2- The Jewish people were commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon entering Eretz Yisrael: To appoint a king, who would then lead the nation in destroying Amalek, and then proceed to erect the Bet HaMikdash on the Temple Mount.

Why did it take 400 years after entering the land under Yehoshua before HaShem appeared to Shmu’el the prophet to instruct him to appoint a king?

I suggest:

In parashat Vayishlach, the Torah records the agonizing episode, when our father Ya’akov and the entire family prostrated themselves before the evil Aisav, grandfather of the arch-evil Amalek.

It is a fact in human relations that when one prostrates himself before another, the downtrodden figure feels forever psychologically inferior. When Ya’akov and the family were forced into the demeaning state of submission, lying "spread eagle" with their faces in the mud before the feet of the jubilant Aisav, they were overcome with profound feelings of inadequacy, mediocrity and weakness. These feelings of submission were transmitted in many subtle ways to the future generations, and could have even been responsible for the lack of courage of the miraglim (scouts) and the people when they refused to enter Eretz Yisrael and make war on the Canaanite nations.

However there was one member of the family, Binyamin, who did not suffer the scars of the others because of two major differences: 1) Binyamin, the youngest son of Ya’akov and Rachel, had not yet been born when the family layed prostrate before the upright figure of Aisav, and 2) Binyamin was born in Eretz Yisrael. And unknown to the people of Israel, it would be the combination of these two factors that would permit Binyamin to overcome the inadequacies which gripped the others in regard to Aisav and his descendants.

The tribes who entered the land were fully aware of the three above mentioned mitzvot which were incumbent upon them. But the idea that under a king they would have to face Amalek prevented them from appointing a king. This situation continued until the time of Shmu’el the prophet, when Hashem initiated the change and sent Shaul, a son of the tribe of Binyamin to him, to become anointed as the first king of Israel, commissioned to lead the nation in the destruction of Amalek and the restoration of Jewish national pride.

Shaul did not live up to the historic task assigned to him, and as it appears now, the task has been postponed until when, in the "eyes" of Hashem, the appropriate generation will come about and annihilate the evil Amalek from the world. That generation is the Jews now living in Eretz Yisrael.

We know that after the northern tribes were sent into exile, the remaining tribes in the land were Yehuda, Binyamin, sections of the tribe of Levi and perhaps some from Shimon.

So a great percentage of our people in Eretz Yisrael are from Binyamin, and the majority of the Jews presently here were born in Eretz Yisrael.

But here the real story just begins.

Normative humanity is facing an existential problem in the form of insane Shia Islam. These demons in human form believe that their Messiah can come only on the background of a global catastrophe, which they want to promote in any way possible, including nuclear war.

Iran and other Shi’ites have no specific target, because for them the entire world, Christian Europe and the United States, down to the Asian nations of mixed religions would be part of the global catastrophe!

Logic would dictate that the nuclear powers of the US, England, France, India and perhaps Pakistan would initiate a preemptive attack on Iran in order to foil their depraved intentions.

But what is the reality?

Just as the Jewish nation stood helplessly passive at the time of Shmu’el, and HaShem summoned the nation’s rescuer from the small and complex tribe of Binyamin, so too is the world casting their eyes on the tiny State of Israel, which at every opportunity they jump to villainize and condemn, to bring forth our heroic sons born in the holy land, in planes and submarines and by all other methods which are the products of the Jewish mind, to take down the Amalek of our times.

May HaShem bless our holy sons who were born in Eretz Yisrael, with the spirit of Binyanim, who never submitted to the threatening power of our enemies, and whose first breaths in this world were taken in the holy land.

Shabbat Shalom

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5772-2011 Nachman Kahana

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