Last Shabbos we concluded the first book of the Torah, Bereishit. In the Synagogue when we finish a book of the Torah, we say a special prayer and proclamation called “Chazak” in which we say ;”Be Strong And May we be strengthened!” The idea behind this is that by having studied a complete book of the Torah, we receive an extra level of strength in our lives.
In the Torah portion, we learn about Jacob’s blessing his twelve sons before his passing. In these blessings he talks about events that will take place with his son’s descendants, the twelve tribes on Israel.
Let’s take a quick glance at some of the blessings.
In actuality, Jacob did not bless his first three sons Reuvain, Shimon and Levi, rather he rebuked them about becoming enraged and making quick and rash decisions albeit for holy purposes.
The commentaries tell us that this in itself was a sort of a blessing since Jacob was trying to eradicate a trait of theirs which he felt was very harmful. Judah was blessed with rulership as we know that King David and King Solomon was from the tribe of Judah and so, too, the King Moshiach will be from the tribe of Judah. It is interesting that the name Judah means thankfulness and submission because the role of a Jewish King is to bring the nation to thankfulness and submission to Hashem.
Zevulan was blessed with success in commerce. Yissachar was blessed with success in Torah Study. In Dan’s blessing, Jacob discusses the heroic actions of Samson who will be a descendant of Dan. Jacob blesses the tribe of Gad with the total success in the conquest of the land of Canaan and that they should not lose any men in the battles. Asher is blessed with very rich produce and being the center for oil production. Naphtali is blessed with the swiftness of a bird. Joseph is blessed with finding favor with people and Benjamin is compared to a wolf that grabs his prey.
The commentaries deduce from the verses that in truth all of the blessings were given to all of Israel, it is just that each tribe excelled in their particular blessings.
So, on this Shabbos when we read these blessings in the Torah ,they are reenacted once again.
May we all receive Jacob’s blessings once again!