Thursday, January 18, 2007

Parshas Vaera

The end of the first perek (6) of this Parsha goes through and details the lineage of Reuvein, Shimon, Levi, etc. However, only regarding the tribe of Levi does the Torah give the introductory words, “And these are the names of…” – why the special introduction only for Levi?

The Shelah haKadosh offers up an explanation, saying that Shevet Levi was not enslaved like the rest of the Jewish people in Egypt. That being said, they didn’t want it to seem as if they were better than the rest of the Jews, so Levi gave his descendents names that had meanings having to do with the Galus (ie, Gershon – “Garim heim b’eretz..”; Marari – “Vayimraru es Chayeihem”). This is why the Torah specifies, “These are the names”, telling us that the specific names to follow are names that have to do with the Galus, showing us that Shevet Levi wanted to be mishtateif in Galus Mitzrayim.

It would’ve been very easy for Shevet Levi to see the cruel daily lives of those enslaved in Egypt, and have been thankful for not being a part of it at all. But they chose to share in the pain of their brothers and go so far as to name their children names which will serve as a constant reminder as to the plight of the Jews in Egypt. On a more individual level, it’s very easy for us to look at people we know who are not as fortunate as us and say, “nebuch”, but the better thing to do is to act like Levi and actively be a part of their trouble; to “feel their pain”, if you may.

We see this attribute of Levi again in our Parsha, where R’ Yonasan Eipshitz, in his Tiferes Yonasan, says that the reason that Pharaoh didn’t enslave the tribe of Levi was because he saw that the one who was going to redeem them from Egypt (Moshe) was to come from Levi, and he thought that only those who were enslaved could redeem the Jews. While this is true, the Tiferes Yonasan says that when one has the above attribute, and truly feels the pain of another person, it is like they are in that situation themselves. Because of this, even though Levi wasn’t enslaved themselves, because they “felt the pain” of their bretheren, Moshe was able to redeem the Jews despite his lineage.


Anonymous cpa said...

cool I didn't know that about the names that Levi gave their kids.

1:43 PM, January 19, 2007


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