|Yalkut Bar Mitzvah|
An Anthology of Laws and Customs of a Bar Mitzvah in the Chabad Tradition
by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov
Published and copyright © by Sichos In English
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- On the verse in Parshas Vayishlach, "Shimon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword...", the Midrash notes that at the time Shimon and Levi killed the people of Shchem they were only thirteen years old, this being the Biblical source for a thirteen year old being obligated to perform mitzvos. This is derived from the fact that the verse refers to them as "Ish" which is a term used only in reference to a grown and intellectually mature person who is therefore obligated to keep the commandments.
Although there does exist a possibility that a child before the age of thirteen may be intellectually developed, nonetheless, since he is lacking in maturity, he still lacks the feel both for the precious nature of fulfilling the mitzvos and also the great loss incurred by not keeping them. He therefore cannot be held fully responsible for his deeds and conduct, and is not developed enough that we should place upon him the full obligation to keep the mitzvos.
- On many occasions the Rebbes of Chabad delivered a Chassidic discourse on the occasion of a Bar Mitzvah opening with the verse, "Let us make man (Adam)." It is explained in many places that there are four names that Scripture uses to describe man - Adam, Ish, Gever, Enosh - and the greatest title is Adam. From this we may understand that a Bar Mitzvah has a connection not only with the level of "Ish" but also with the level of Adam. However this poses a difficulty. If it is sufficient for obligation of mitzvos to reach the level of "Ish," then why did the Rebbeim connect Bar Mitzvah with the level of Adam?
Furthermore; the difference between "Ish" and "Adam" lies in the fact that the term "Ish" is used to describe seichel-intellect which has a connection with middos-emotions, and the feelings of the heart. There are many different levels of "Ish", and in fact one only attains a full level of "Ish" at the age of twenty. However the term "Adam" is used to describe the faculty of seichel as it stands higher than the middos. This magnifies the question even more. What is the connection between the level of "let us make man (Adam)" and a Bar Mitzvah - how can one confer the title of "Adam" upon someone who is only thirteen years old?
We must therefore answer that, although by the age of Bar Mitzvah the boy attains the level of "Ish," nonetheles, in order to fulfill the mitzvos properly one must also be under the influence of the level of "Adam," as shall be explained.
- The source from which we may learn that the level of "Ish" does not suffice for mitzvah performance is the very same verse quoted above: "Shimon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword." Superficially this verse poses a problem: it is the extra dimension of seichel-intellect and daas (intellect that affects the emotions) that is added when a boy reaches the age of thirteen that allows him to take the responsibility for mitzvah performance. How, therefore, can we derive this from a verse whose content - each one taking his sword and killing all the males - is an action which was motivated by strong emotions?
We must therefore say that from this verse we may learn that not only does a Bar Mitzvah have to be an "Ish" but that the verse also hints at a level of "Adam," and it is for this reason that the Rebbeim started the maamarim with the words "let us make man (Adam)," to tell us that the level of "Ish" is not enough - there must also be Adam.
Regarding the source from which we learn that a boy is obligated to keep the mitzvos at the age of thirteen, there are in fact two opinions: the first, as derived from the above-mentioned verse, and the second, that the age of thirteen is not derived from any Scriptural source, rather, this is the age that has been received as tradition from Moshe on Sinai as the halachic age of obligation for mitzvos.
The difference between the two: According to the first opinion, the age of thirteen is an age at which there is a natural intellectual maturity, and the verse, by describing Shimon and Levi as an "Ish," indicates that at the age of thirteen they had reached that level of maturity. Whereas, according to the second opinion, that the age of thirteen has been received as Mosaic tradition, the age has nothing to do with a natural change, rather it is a halachah.
The practical halachic difference would arise in the case of a non-Jew, concerning the age at which he is obligated to keep the commandments which are incumbent on non-Jews. According to the first opinion, that the obligation of mitzvos is dependent on human nature, it would follow that non-Jews would also be obligated to keep their commandments at the age of thirteen. However according to the second opinion - that the age of obligation for Jews has been received as Mosaic tradition - it would seem that since non-Jews do not have such a tradition, their age of obligation would be subjective, dependent on each one's understanding and maturity - possibly even at an earlier age than thirteen.
In avodah, these two opinions represent two different approaches to the question of how a Jew should commence his performance of mitzvos. According to the first opinion, which holds that the obligation to keep the mitzvos is dependent on intellectual maturity, it follows that the approach to the performance of mitzvos must be within the realm of the intellect. However according to the second opinion, the reason a thirteen-year old must keep the mitzvos is because that is the Mosaic tradition - it is a halachah - and that is the will of the A-lmighty - which is an approach of kabbalas ol - accepting upon oneself the yoke of heaven.
- From the very fact, however, that the first opinion derives the age of thirteen from the account of Shimon and Levi drawing their swords - which in itself is an act of mesirus nefesh, it is clear that even according to the first opinion, in addition to the intellectual dimension, there must also be an element of mesirus nefesh transcending the intellect. This is in no contradiction to the aforementioned, namely, that the age of thirteen represents a level of intellectual maturity, it is only adding the detail that the foundation of all avodah must be kabbalas ol and only when the foundation is one of kabbalas ol will the avodah with intellect be as it should be.
The proof for this lies in the verse in Parshas Nitzavim where the people are warned to keep the mitzvos: "See - I have placed before you today life and good, death evil.... and you shall choose life." The wording of the verse poses a problem: if a person can see for himself that the way of Torah and mitzvos is "life and good" then why is it necessary for him to be told to choose life? The answer: if a person's choice to keep Torah and mitzvos is based on his intellect and his understanding that they are "life and good," he has not yet achieved becoming an oved (servant of G-d). The concept of a true oved is that of one who acts only because the master has commanded him to do so, and therefore true avodas Hashem is serving G-d only because G-d has commanded us to "choose life."
However, since the verse begins with the words, "See - I have placed before you..." and also finishes with the words: "choose life" it is clear that it is the will of G-d that Torah and mitzvos should permeate the entire being, and it is therefore necessary that the intellect, also, must appreciate that Torah and mitzvos is "life and good." To summarize: there must be both dimensions. The foundation must be kabbalas ol, and inherent in that kabbalas ol is the fact that it is the will of G-d that the Torah should also be understood intellectually.
- We will now understand the connection of the verse "Let us make man" with Bar Mitzvah. In the explanation of the title "Adam" there are two dimensions: 1) "Adam" represents full intellectual maturity, as explained above; 2) "Adam" has the same letters as "m'od,"  the dimension of the infinite that transcends the intellect. Since both concepts are represented in the same word, one must say that they are related to each other.
The idea in avodah is that even when a person reaches the highest levels of intellect as indicated by the title "Adam" - which is higher than the seichel of "Ish", nonetheless, he must also attain the level of mesirus nefesh, which transcends intellect. And so is it in the obverse case. Even when he is illuminated with the powers of mesirus nefesh which transcend intellect, he should not rest content with that level, rather he should also strive to make this mesirus nefesh permeate his inner powers and, primarily, his intellect.
And this is one of the reasons why the Rebbeim said a maamar beginning with the words "Let us make man (Adam)" on the occasion of a a Bar Mitzvah, to show that even when one has reached a level of intellectual maturity - "Ish"-it is not enough, one has still to strive for the level of mesirus nefesh indicated in the words "Ish charbo" each one his sword, an avodah of mesirus nefesh that transcends intellect, which is connected with the level of "Adam"-the same letters as "m'od."
(adapted from Likkutei Sichos Vol. XV, pp. 289ff.)
It is from the verse in Parshas Vayishlach
: "And it came to pass on the third day, when they (the people of Shchem) were in pain, that two of Yaakov's sons, Shimon and Levi, Dinah's brothers each took his sword (ish charbo) and they came upon the city confidently, and killed every male," that we learn that a boy from the age of thirteen is obligated to keep the mitzvos. Shimon and Levi were at that time thirteen years old,
and the verse refers to them as an Ish so we may learn that a Bar Mitzvah boy is called an Ish and is obligated in mitzvos.
Everything in Torah is exact and precise. It is therefore puzzling as to why such an important moment in life - the time of Bar Mitzvah which, as the Midrash explains, is the moment when the Yetzer Tov (good inclination) enters the Jew and, as the Alter Rebbe explains, is the moment that signals the final and main entry of the holy soul into the Jew, the moment when he becomes fully obligated to keep the mitzvos - how can it be that such an important passage of life is derived from the source of Shimon and Levi taking their swords, etc., which on the face of it was an inappropriate act?
True, in killing the people of Shchem they were not transgressing, since the people of Shchem were liable for capital punishment (either because they did not bring Shchem to justice for his act, or for sins committed prior to the act of Shchem). However, it is clear that their actions were not approved of by their father, Yaakov. Later in Parshas Vayechi, at the time of Yaakov's blessings, he refers to this act: "Shimon and Levi are comrades, their weaponry is a stolen craft," meaning to say, an act of murder of this kind has been stolen from Yaakov's brother Esav. This is alluded to in the verse itself, where it is stressed that "two of Yaakov's sons..." that is, although we already know that they were Yaakov's sons, Scripture finds it important to stress here that they were Yaakov's sons, since to all appearances they were not acting like sons of Yaakov, for they acted independently, without seeking their fathers advice.
This amplifies the above question. If this verse itself alludes to the fact that Yaakov was not happy with their conduct, then why particularly from this verse do we derive the source for Bar Mitzvah?
This may be understood by a comment of the Midrash on the verse, "For in their rage they murdered people (Ish)" - the singular form, Ish, is used. Comments the Midrash: "Did they only kill one man, does it not say that they killed all the males? Only they were all considered before G-d as one man."
One may ask: the wording: "they murdered people (Ish)" would be appropriate only if the act of Shimon and Levi was in fulfillment of the Will of G-d, for then one could say that since before G-d they were considered as one man, so too, in the eyes of Shimon and Levi who were fulfilling the Will of G-d, were they considered one man - and the brothers received this power from G-d. However we find that Yaakov criticized them for this act, even going so far as to say that this in fact was a trait of his brother Esav. If they were not fulfilling the will of G-d, then, why does the verse use, in reference to their act of murder, the singular form Ish, to indicate that before G-d they were only considered as one man?
One must therefore say that although Yaakov agreed in principle that the people of Shchem were liable for capital punishment, he was dissatisfied with the way in which Shimon and Levi carried out their punishment - in such a way that, "You have troubled me, to make me odious among the inhabitants of the land."
This we can understand in two ways:
- Since the only way to punish the people of Shchem was to trick them - first by promising them that if they would consent to be circumcised then, "we will dwell with you and become a single people," - and thereafter abrogating that promise and killing them - Yaakov was of the opinion that it would be better not to kill them in order to avoid the Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name) that would result from such trickery.
- On the contrary: Yaakov was of the opinion that they should be killed - not through trickery which could result in Chillul Hashem - but openly - since in the eyes of Hashem they were only considered to be one man, they (his sons) could act with impunity.
However, Yaakov was also well aware that Shimon and Levi, due to their intrinsic characters would not reckon with the claim, "you have made me odious etc.," for the cry of "should our sister be made a harlot?!" aroused in them a terrific sense of jealousy of holiness, similar to that of Pinchas, who was in fact a descendent of Levi.
Jealousy of this kind is deeply rooted in the soul, as it states: "their zeal for vengeance is hard as the grave" and it touches the very essence of the soul. When such terrific jealousy is aroused, there is no room for intellectual calculation.
Since Shimon and Levi were jealous for G-d - their actions transcending all calculation - G-d's power was also revealed in the sense that in His eyes they were only considered as one "Ish (man)."
The above explanation remains problematic:
If Shimon and Levi did act out of holy jealousy - above all calculations - then why were they criticized for not taking Yaakov's advice before they acted? Advice is rational - their actions were by their nature irrational?
It is for this reason that the verse describes them as "the two sons of Yaakov;" although they were his children, they did not act like his children. This may be understood to mean: True, it could not be demanded of them that they consult with Yaakov, since they were motivated by great jealousy which stands above all advice. However, what could have been demanded is that they consult Yaakov purely from the perspective of the mitzvah of Kibbud Av - honoring their father.
But this still remains problematic.
If the criticism that "they did not take advice" was attributable to a lack of Kibbud Av, their resultant action should not have been approved by Hashem. In this case the original question returns - why does the verse use the singular form Ish, implying that all the inhabitants were in Hashem's eyes as one man, and that, therefore, Hashem approved of their course of action?
Clear analysis of the mitzvah of Kibbud Av shows that there is a major difference between the Kibbud Av practiced by a Noachide and the Kibbud Av demanded of a Jew. The mitzvah of Kibbud Av to which a Jew is held is a mitzvah from Hashem and is kept as such - one connects with Hashem through honoring one's parents. However, the mitzvah of Kibbud Av of a Noachide has different parameters. In the Noachide code, honor due to parents is a commandment given in order to create a stable society.
Living before the giving of the Torah, Shimon and Levi were obligated in the mitzvah of Kibbud Av in the same way as a Noachide. The obligation to consult their father was certainly not applicable in this situation, given that the actions of Shchem were an abomination and the opposite of "settling the world." In order for Shimon and Levi to achieve a stable law abiding society, it was necessary for them to correct a criminal act.
This being the case, we need to search for an alternative explanation as to why Yaakov was so upset at their not having sought his advice.
As explained above, the cry, "should our sister be made a harlot?!" affected Shimon and Levi so deeply that they were driven to act in a manner uncharacteristic of the sons of Yaakov. They were so enveloped in their feelings, they saw no other option but to annihilate Shchem.
It is for this reason that when they were challenged by Yaakov, they answered, "Should our sister etc.," and Yaakov accepted their answer. Later, however, he rebuked them - for after he saw that, "at their whim they hamstrung an ox" - this proved that they had a natural tendency to such actions, and it suggested that even in the killing of Shchem, although predominantly motivated by the cry, "should our sister etc.," there was a tinge of this natural tendency.
This explains why, in his rebuke, Yaakov says, "Shimon and Levi are brothers" - brothers to Dinah but not brothers to Yosef - in other words, the fact that they acted as brothers to Dinah, but not to Yosef, confirms the suspicion that in their killing of Shchem there was mixed into their intentions a twist of their own character - their weaponry a stolen craft.
(Condensed from Likkutei Sichos Vol. V, p. 150ff.)
We now see why the age of Bar Mitzvah is derived from the account of the actions of Shimon and Levi. The story teaches us how to act when faced with a situation of harlotry. In truth, every sin is an act of harlotry as alluded to in the verse, "and you shall not turn after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray," - for when one is torn away from Hashem through sin, this may be compared to a harlot who is prohibited to her husband.
One must know that in such a situation one should not reckon with any calculations or limitations - even limitations of Torah - one must at that moment arouse in himself a feeling of mesirus nefesh.
After one has aroused a feeling of mesirus nefesh, thereafter all one's actions must be calculated, rational and according to the Torah. It is only in order that rational avodah may be all that it must be that mesirus nefesh is a prerequisite- immediately on becoming an Ish he acquires mesirus nefesh, which is above all rationale.
- (Back to text) 34:25.
- (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 80:10. Midrash Lekach Tov and Midrash Seichel Tov.
- (Back to text) Rashi, Nazir 29b section beginning "and R. Yosi." See also Rashi and Bartenura on Pirkei Avos Ch. 5:21 (and according to the text of the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur Mishnah 22), Machzor Vitri, ibid. Well known is the question (quoted in the Responsa of the Maharil No. 51) that how do we know that less than the age of 13 is also not called an "Ish"?
- (Back to text) In the wording of Rambam, Laws of Ishus 2:10, "he is called a Gadol and called Ish."
- (Back to text) Rashi and Bartenura in their commentary on the Mishnah in Avos ibid., quote the verse in Bamidbar 5:6, "A man or woman who commits any of man's sins..." which implies that only a man (ish) or woman (ishah) are liable for punishment. Since the same term Ish is used in this verse we can deduce that a 13 year old is considered responsible enough to be liable for punishment. From this cross reference it is clear that the age 13 is learned from a Biblical source. However not necessarily is this deduction without reason as shall be seen later.
There are other verses that also indicate that the term Ish is used in reference to maturity, e. g. Shmos 2:14, "Who appointed you as a dignitary (ish) a ruler and a judge over us," - see Rashi and Rabbeinu Bachaye ibid., unlike Shmos Rabbah ibid. See also I Melachim 2:2, and Radak, Sefer HaShroshim entry Ish.
- (Back to text) In Kuntres HaTefillah of the Rebbe Rashab - printed by Kehot 5752 "Tract on Prayer" - Ch. 5, the Rebbe explains at length the concept of Daas being the third intellectual soul power (Chochmah, Binah and Daas). Daas is in fact the faculty that enables a person to bind himself to an idea or concept, and is the medium through which emotions are born. Daas is a distinct intellect and ensures that a concept is more clearly felt and discerned. To quote:
"For a person may understand something very well, yet he may not feel it, just as an intelligent child whose understanding is broad nonetheless does not sense the core of the matter. And for this reason, a child under the age of thirteen years is not punishable by Jewish law. He may be astute, bright and perceptive, and fully knowledgeable of all the regulations concerning the positive and negative commandments. Nevertheless, he is not culpable if he transgresses a commandment. For possessing no daas, a child can neither recognize nor feel the essential aspect of mitzvos........ Similarly in worldly concerns: a child may show a keen understanding of monetary matters and prestige; nevertheless their true significance is foreign to him, since unlike an adult, he cannot discern and sense them. The same applies to the opposite qualities, namely lowliness and poverty. Unlike an adult who can sense these shortcomings very clearly, a child, though he understands their demerits, cannot feel them."
See also Sefer HaMaamarim 5670, p. 115; Sefer HaMaamarim 5672, Vol. III, p. 1227.
- (Back to text) For example the Maamar "Let us make man" of year 5640. However, we do find that by the Rebbeim a Maamar on the verse, "Be strong and be a man (Ish)" was said on a day when tefillin were put on for the first time - 11 Iyar 5653, (see Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. I, p. 107b), also 2nd Day of Chanukah 5696.
- (Back to text) The Previous Rebbe related that when a maamar was said by a Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbeim, the maamar always started with the opening "Let us make man" even though when later the maamar was written and copied, the opening words were deleted.
- (Back to text) Bereishis 1:26.
- (Back to text) To quote from HaYom Yom, entry for 4 Elul: "In describing the unique qualities of humankind, four terms are used: Adam refers to the quality of mind and intellect; Ish to the quality of heart and emotion;
Enosh, weakness in either intellect or emotion or both; finally Gever, who overcomes inner weakness and removes obstacles and hindrances to the attainment of an intellectual or emotional quality. That is, Gever works upon Enosh to elevate him to the plane of Ish or Adam. Since it is possible to turn Enosh into Ish or Adam, it is obvious that Enosh already possesses the qualities found in Ish and Adam."
For further references see: Zohar, Vol. III, p. 48a; Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim 25a; Sefer HaMaamarim 5629, Maamar Ish Key Yimarate; Kuntres Toras HaChassidus Ch. 7; Sefer Arachim Chabad, Entry Adam para. 8-9.
- (Back to text) See also Sefer HaMaamarim 5711, p. 246 and Chanoch LeNaar p. 10 regarding the Rebbe Rashab: "then he became an Ish. When he became Bar Mitzvah the Rebbe Maharash blessed him to become an Adam."
- (Back to text) Pirush HaMilos (by the Mitteler Rebbe) Ch. 2. See at length Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1117 and footnotes ibid.
- (Back to text) See Vayishlach 34:7 "And they were very angry." Rashi on Vayechi 49:6 "in their anger."
- (Back to text) This is the opinion of the Rosh in Responsa Principle 16. See also Responsa of Maharil No. 51 and the explanation of Rashi on the Mishnah in Avos, ibid.
- (Back to text) One may perhaps explain this opinion by saying that this opinion holds that signs of puberty (and years) make one into a gadol - not that it is proof of a gadol - see Tzofnas Panei'ach on Rambam, Laws of Ishus 2:9.
- (Back to text) Rambam, Laws of Melachim, 9:10.
- (Back to text) Responsa of Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah 317 in explanation of the opinion of Rambam ibid., and 10:2. Note comment of Tosafos Sanhedrin 69a, that in earlier generations the signs of puberty were seen much earlier.
- (Back to text) And although there may be exceptions that even at the age of thirteen the boy has not reached a level of maturity, even so the Torah speaks of the majority. See Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, Ch. 34.
- (Back to text) Like the saying of the Sages Yevamos 76b, that if it is Mosaic tradition we will accept it even though intellectually it may be challenged.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 162 footnote 74; ibid., p. 421.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 428. Vol. IV, p. 1211.
- (Back to text) Nitzavim 30:15-19.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, Ch. 41.
- (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 88:5; see Rashi, ibid. Torah Or, p. 46d; Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim, p. 29b; Sefer HaMaamarim 5637, Ch. 22.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Torah, ibid. This entity expresses itself in the power of speech which stems from the power of the infinite invested in the soul which transcends intellect - Sefer HaMaamarim 5637, ibid.
- (Back to text) See Sefer HaMaamarim 5672, Vol. I, Ch. 100.
- (Back to text) See Sefer HaMaamarim 5670, p. 122 where it is explained that the level of daas stems from ratzon and pnimiyus haratzon. This fits in very well with that which has been explained that the level of mesirus nefesh "m'od" being the same letters as Adam, transcending intellect applied to a thirteen year old who has reached a level of deah.
- (Back to text) Bereishis 34:25.
- (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 80:10. Perhaps this is the source of the comment of Rashi, Nazir 29b that they were at that time aged 13. See Midrash Lekach Tov and Shochar Tov who calculate (albeit differently) this age. See Chapter of Reshimos.
- (Back to text) Rashi, Nazir ibid. Commentaries on Mishnah Avos Ch. 5 (end); Machzor Vitri, ibid.
- (Back to text) Koheles Rabbah 4:13.
- (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Mahadura Tinyana, Ch. 4 (end).
- (Back to text) For mitzvos which the boy keeps before Bar Mitzvah are only obligated rabbinically, albeit the father is obligated to educate the boy, however the boy himself is exempt - see Laws of Talmud Torah of Alter Rebbe. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 343. For a full discussion of the opinions in this matter, see Sdei Chemed Klalim 1:60 (Vol. 1:185:4 in Kehot edition).
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 190 note 41.
- (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Melachim, Ch. 9. See Radak verse 27, "For many people saw Shchem when he took her and nobody protested." What requires explanation is where do we find a liability for capital punishment by a human court for an act of not protesting? See Or HaChaim who explains that the people of Shchem helped Shchem kidnap Dinah - see there at length. However if this is the case why was Yaakov so upset with his sons? See the Sichah at length.
- (Back to text) Ramban 34:13. Ran in commentary on Sanhedrin 56b.
- (Back to text) Vayechi 49:5; Bereishis Rabbah 98:5, 99:7.
- (Back to text) Rashi on verse, taken from Bereishis Rabbah 80:10.
- (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 99:7; Tanchuma, Vayechi 10.
- (Back to text) Vayechi 49:6.
- (Back to text) The Tanchuma adds "before G-d and before them." One could suggest that the Tanchuma means that since before G-d they were only considered as one man, therefore they too only considered them as one man. Rashi in his commentary on the verse quotes only that they were considered by Shimon and Levi as one man and omits the comment of the Midrash that before G-d they were considered as one man. This seems to suggest that it was only in the eyes of the brothers and because of their might did they consider them as one man. See however Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 257 note 37.
- (Back to text) Similar to the verse in Shoftim 6:16, "for I will be with you (and therefore) you shall strike Midian as one man." See also Shoftim 20:1 and Rashi, ibid., "and you shall see a horse and its rider - in the eyes of them all like one horse," which can mean - that since your going out to war is the will of G-d, which in My (G-d's) eyes is like one horse, therefore also you should see it that way.
- (Back to text) Vayishlach 34:30. What upset Yaakov was the prospect of a Chillul Hashem - desecration of G-d's name (see also Ramban, Vayechi 49:5). One cannot however suggest that what upset Yaakov was that such an action placed himself and his family in danger, as it says, "and I and my house shall be destroyed," for if the act in itself was correct, Yaakov would not have described it as "in their anger did they murder people", and he definitely would not have accused them of using weapons of violence, the blessing of Esau.
- (Back to text) Vayishlach 34:16.
- (Back to text) One could draw a parallel with the Givonim - see Gittin 46a, Yevamos 79a - whose punishment was withheld because of the Chillul Hashem that would result through abrogation of the promise made to them.
- (Back to text) This explains why in Yaakov's blessing he uses the expression, "for in their anger they killed ish" - why in this rebuke does Yaakov stress they were only considered as one man? The answer: since in the eyes of Hashem they were only considered as one man the brothers should have killed them openly and not through trickery.
- (Back to text) It may be suggested that the reason why they used trickery was a) their humility led them to believe that they were unworthy of a miracle [even though they trusted in the power of their father - Bereishis Rabbah 80:10, Rashi 34:25, that was only after the people of Shchem were suffering in pain after their circumcision - their trust therefore was enclosed in nature]; or b) they were angry and therefore made a mistake - see Pesachim 66b, Sifri and Rashi, Matos 31:21 - this also explains why Yaakov cursed "their anger."
- (Back to text) Yaakov's claim "you have made me odious in the eyes of the inhabitants of the land," came before he heard their reply "should our sister be made a harlot." See later to understand the reason why Yaakov rebuked them.
- (Back to text) Shir HaShirim 8:6.
- (Back to text) See Vayeitzei 30:1 and Or HaTorah, ibid.
- (Back to text) This answers the question of the Or HaChaim 34:31. See also the parallel of Pinchas - his self-sacrifice transcending intellect - see Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, p. 158 note 65.
- (Back to text) See the Sichah at length for the difference between the mitzvos of a Jew and a Noachide, as reflected in the mitzvah of Kibbud Av.
- (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah 98:5, 99:7.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Torah, Korach, p. 53c.