With All Your Heart

The tribes of Shimon and Levi  have an unusual and tempestuous relationship. They were  in fact a combustible twosome when together. In an act of anger and revenge they plot and carry out the murder of Shchem ben Chamor and his entire city because of his rape of their sister Dinah .

When Jacob gathers his children to bless them he says of Shimon and Levi the following:

“Simeon and Levi are brethren; weapons of violence their kinship.Let my soul not come into their council; unto their assembly let my glory not be united; for in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they houghed oxen.( an allusion to the imprisonment of Joseph)  Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was cruel; I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. ( Genesis 49:5-7)

Jacob was acknowledging their passions and pointed to their similar quality of impulsive zeal. Jacob  was dispersing them amongst the people so that their overriding passions would be diluted and channeled into positive actions and directions.

Actually  learn that ability long  before those of the tribe of Shimon.Yet eventually, in the midst of their dispersal in the territory of Judah,  the tribe of Shimon  would also adapt their fierce intensity and zeal in other directions . The tribe of Shimon became the teachers of torah and focused their zeal into the teaching of  the young children of the other tribes.

The key seems to be to take control and adapt all the characteristics G-d has given us and learn to channel them into more elevated directions. Otherwise those same passions and drives will take control of us.

The encounter between Pinchas  in his encounter with Zimri the prince of the tribe of Shimon highlights with painful clarity this understanding.

We read that Pinhas, the grandson of Aaron receives a blessing after his act of zealotry. And it shall be to him, and his seed after him, the covenant of an  everlasting priesthood (25:13)  Although the priesthood had actually been given to the  descendants of Aaron, it was given only to Aaron, his  sons, and to the children they would father after their anointing. Pinchas, however, had already been born before that time and only achieved priesthood now. Pinchas was still only a member of the tribe of Levi, with all that that entails.

Zimri on the other hand was one of the princes of the tribe of Shimon .” Now the name of the man of Israel that was slain, who was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers’ house among the Simeonites. ( Numbers 25:14).Even more  important to note is the painful fact that it was the tribe of Shimon that suffered most dramatically in the plague that followed the wanton behavior with the daughters of Midian.

We read the following:

“And it came to pass after the plague, that G-d spoke to Moses… “Take the sum of all the  congregation of the children of Israel…” (26:1)

The Midrash Tanchuma points out that when one compares this new census with the previous ones, one finds that many members of the tribe of Shimon  died in this  plague due to their sins and that they  constituted the greater part, if not all, of the 24,000 who perished in the plague

Here we see again a coming together of representatives of these two great tribes. Each individual representative carrying within him similar the genetic and spiritual propensity for zeal and impulsive passion. Zimri and others from this tribe let that passion lead them into treacherous waters. Cavorting with the daughters of Midian and succumbing to the lures of the idol worship of Baal Peor was the disastrous result.

Pinchas made different decisions. He channeled his passion so HaShem would say of him  “he was very jealous for My sake among them” ( Numbers 25:11)

These are the choices before us every day.

Every morning and evening a Jewish person recites the Shma prayer ” Hear, O Israel: HaShem  our G.d, HaShem  is one. And thou shall love HaShem  your G.d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”( Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Our sages ask why the word “Levavecha” (with all your heart ) is written with two letters BET .Should it not have said “Belibcha” with one BET? In the words of the Sifri , this was to teach us  that one is to serve G-d, ,with “both” of our hearts—the yetzer tov( the inclination for good ) and the yetzer harah ( the inclination for the opposite). That is to say that one must serve Hashem with one’s G-dly soul ( nefesh Elokit)  as well as with our more selfish animalistic soul ( nefesh behemi).

This was the choice that stood before Pinchas and Zimri. We are all gifted with talents, passions and drives. Those attributes can become blessings or challenges. It is in our hands to decide which of the two they will be.

And thou shall love HaShem  your G.d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

3 thoughts on “With All Your Heart”

  1. My heart is so full and happy after learning from your Torah teachings. Thank you for sharing with the world your wisdom, knowledge and insight. The Christian gentile world I am in is so clueless and ignorant of the deeper teachings of Torah. Thank you for your continual efforts to enlighten the world of HaShem and His ways. May HaShem bless you mightily! Bez’ruit HaShem! Thank you thank you THANK YOU!!

  2. Shalom
    Would like to learn more about the tribe of Gad.
    Thanks for you Torah teachings.


  3. Brachot back on to you.

    Gad was the son of Zilpah, one of Jacob’s four wives, brother to Asher. “Gad” means a “troop” (as Gedud), and this is what Leah meant when she said Ba Gad-for her sons now made up a whole “troop” (Gen. 3 0:11) .Jacob blessed his sons (Gen. 49:19),and prophesied that the tribe of Gad will provide troops who will lead the children of Israel to victory in the conquest of the Land of Israel , Moshe likened Gad to a lion. Again another allusion to the mighty warriors of this tribe

    Before the fighting men of Reuven, Gad, and the half-tribe of Menasheh returned to their wives and children, Joshua exhorted them to remain faithful to G-d and to the Torah and Mitzvoth, with all their heart and soul. Then Joshua blessed them and sent them home (Joshua 22:1-6).

    The Prophet Ezekiel describes the boundaries of the lands repossessed by the twelve tribes. He declares that the City of Jerusalem will have twelve gates, each named after a tribe. The Gate of Gad will be one of the three southern gates (Ezekiel 48:27, 28, 34).

Leave a Comment