On his deathbed, Jacob has this to say regarding Simeon and Levi:

“Cursed is their wrath so fierce,
and their fury so harsh!
I will disperse them in Jacob,
scatter them in Israel.” — Genesis/Breishit 49:7

How could Jacob have “blessed” Simeon and Levi, given the harsh words he directed toward them (49:5-7)? One interpreter of this verse suggests that Jacob’s rebuke of his sons was, in fact, a blessing. In cursing their anger specifically — rather than his sons — Jacob sought to temper it, and to encourge them to distance themselves from their inappropriate behaviors. In this sense, his criticism was intended as a blessing, offering his sons a chance to renounce their past actions and become better people (Itturei Torah [“Torah Gems”, an anthology of mussar and Hasidic teachings]).
–from Devora E. Weisberg’s “Post-Biblical Interpretations” in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary*

*Please see Source Materials for complete citations.

Click on the “WeeklyTorah” tag for more resources on the weekly portion throughout the year, or on a portion name for parashah-specific notes. (The series began with Numbers; posts for Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus are being drafted, week-by-week.) You can also zero-in on particular types of “Opening the Book” posts by clicking Language and Translation, Something to Notice, a Path to Follow, or Great Source in the tag cloud.

The “Opening the Book” series is presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group pursuing spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

Posted by vspatz

Virginia blogs on Jewish topics at "A Song Every Day" and manages the Education Town Hall and #WeLuvBooks sites. More at Vspatz.wordpress.com

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