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The Aznayim L’Torahsays that for a blessing to succeed there are four ideal conditions. Firstly the person giving the blessing must love the person who receives it. Secondly the person giving the blessing should be a Tzadik (saint). Thirdly the person receiving the blessing should be a worthy recipient and lastly the blessing should be given at the appropriate time. All of these conditions are met in the first verse of the Torah’s last sedra. And this is the Blessing which Moses the man of G-d blessed the children of Israel before his death

Everyone knows that Moses loved the Jewish people and he was certainly a Tzadik “The man of G-d”. The Jewish people themselves where worthy of blessing, which is what G-d told Bilam when he tried to curse us. There is no more appropriate time to give a blessing than before one dies.

There is one word in this first verse which seems out of place, the word “and”. Why start the sentence with “and”? “and” is a joining word.
It is essential to establish that the last part of the Torah is a continuation of the rest and not Moses’ own addition. Just as the other Sedra’s were the word of G-d conveyed though the prophecy of Moses so too the blessings that he gave at the end of his life. The urgency of this point is demonstrated when we look at the blessings each tribe received from Moses. The tribe of Shimon receives no blessing from Moses! One could imagine that the reason is simply because of the four conditions we mentioned. It was Zimri the Prince of the tribe of Shimon who paraded his Midianite princess before Moses and challenged him. “If I cannot have this non-Jewish women who allowed you to have your wife ” Moses wife was the daughter of Jethro, the convert to Judaism. If we thought that these blessings came from Moses then we would think that he bore a grudge and therefore could not bless Shimon. The Torah establishes that these blessings were directed prophetically from G-d. The obvious question is why did G-d not give Shimon a specific blessing.

Rashi says that Shimon in fact did get a blessing and that it is contained in Yehudah’s blessing in verse 7

“And this to Yehudah, and it will be said, listen G-d to the voice of Yehudah and to his people let him be brought” Rashi says that Yehudah needed this blessing as he was always at the fore in military campaigns (Yehudah was the largest tribe as well as the royal tribe). The blessing was an appeal to G-d for him to successfully return from war. The Rashi continues and says that in this blessing is a hint to Shimon (the word listen in Hebrew is shema the root of Shimon) . They received a portion in the land of Israel from Yehudah’s land. The Kli Yokor takes this a stage further and says that when the tribes received a blessing from Yaakov before his death Shimon received a rebuke instead of a blessing. Rashi says that for having killed the inhabitants of Shechem in anger Yaakov ordained that Shimon should have no land in Israel. Moshe’s Blessing directed through Yehudah undoes this. The Kli Yokor continues, someone who needs something and prays for someone else who is also in need receives the blessing first. Yehudah praying for Shimon that he should be brought to his land means that he too will receive that blessing. There is another reason why Moses could not directly bless Shimon. Even though the first of our four conditions will be met i.e. that Moses loves the person receiving the blessing., Shimon will not believe that this is so.

People are often eaten up with remorse for having done something wrong. No matter how much you re-assure them that you forgive them they can’t believe it. According to the Kesav SoferThis phenomenon explains the bad report of the land of Israel given by the spies. It was not that they failed to believe that G-d could conquer the land for them. They failed to believe that after the Golden Calf they were worthy so that G-d would conquer the land for them. The Pri Tzaddik says that when Yaakov had rebuked Shimon, Levy and Ruben they immediately regretted their actions and did Teshuva (repented). Moses was therfore able to change Yaakov’s prescription for Shimon and through Yehudah guarantee that he will not be scattered throughout Israel. In chapter four of Genesis we read the story of Kain and Able. When Kain’s offering is rejected by G-d for lacking sincerity, G-d tells able not to despair, all he need do, is repent and everything will be forgiven. Unlike Shimon he does not listen and goes on to commit the first murder in history. Jews have to be reassured that if a mistake is made and regretted then they can be assured that blessings not curses will follow.

Rabbi Y Y Rubinstein has thrilled audiences from Jerusalem to Manchester and Johannesburg to Los Angeles. There are two reasons for his success. One is a mastery of sources in Jewish philosophy and his understanding of contemporary events. The other is his unique delivery…If you have the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom…do not miss it!

Rabbi Professor Dovid Gottlieb

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