If You Can Beat Them – Parashat Vayechi

December 27, 2017 at 3:59 AM , , ,
“….Let my soul not enter their conspiracy, let my honor have no part in their assembly. for in their wrath they killed a man… cursed be their rage, for it is fierce, and their fury, for it is harsh…..” – Bereishit 49:6-7

״….בסדום אל תבוא נפשי בקהלם אל תחד כבודי כי באפם הרגו איש…..ארור אפם כי עז ועברתם כי קשתה…״ – בראשית מט, ו-ז

The Midrash explains that the “man” that Shimon and Levi are said to have killed in their wrath is actually a reference to quite a few men: the entire adult male population of Shechem. Yaakov calls all of them “a man,” because they were like no more than one man before Shimon and Levi.

What place does this tribute to the ease with which Shimon and Levi decimated Shechem have in the midst of Yaakov’s rebuke of their rage and fury?

If You Can Beat ThemEvidently, Yaakov was not necessarily displeased with the devastation that they mightily dealt Shechem. In fact, the ease with which they killed all the men of Shechem was only more reason for Yaakov’s displeasure with their rage-driven actions.

Yaakov agreed that killing the people of Shechem was justified. He was critical, however, of Shimon and Levi’s deceitful means of doing so. They promised Shechem peace if the entire male population would circumcise themselves, and then exploited the weakness and pain of the men of Shechem to attack them, in violation of their peace agreement. Such deceitfulness was a disgrace for Yaakov and for the faith for which he stood.

Yaakov rebuked Shimon and Levi saying, that considering their ability to wipe out the entire city with the ease of killing one man, they had no need to deceive them. They could have confronted and attacked the men of Shechem directly and “honorably”. Yaakov therefore cursed their anger, which blinded them in the heat of the moment from recognizing their ability to mete out punishment on the people of Shechem without resorting to trickery.

—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 5, p. 151-152


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