Yakov lives the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. Before his passing, he asks Yosef to take an oath that he will bury him in the Holy Land. He blesses Yosef’s two sons, Menasheh and Efrayim, elevating them to the status of his own sons as progenitors of tribes within the nation of Israel.
The patriarch desires to reveal the end of days to his children, but is prevented from doing so.
Yakov blesses his sons, assigning to each his role as a tribe: Yehudah will produce leaders, legislators and kings; priests will come from Levi, scholars from Isachar, seafarers from Zevulun, schoolteachers from Shimon, soldiers from Gad, judges from Dan, olive-growers from Asher, and so on. Reuven is rebuked for “confusing his father’s marriage bed”; Shimon and Levi, for the massacre of Shchem and the plot against Yosef. Naftali is granted the swiftness of a deer, Binyamin the ferociousness of a wolf, and Yosef is blessed with beauty and fertility.
A large funeral procession consisting of Yakov’s descendants, Pharaoh’s ministers, the leading citizens of Egypt and the Egyptian cavalry accompanies Yakov on his final journey to the Holy Land, where he is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Chevron.
Yosef, too, dies in Egypt, at the age of 110. He, too, instructs that his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried in the Holy Land, but this would come to pass only with the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt many years later. Before his passing, Yosef conveys to the Children of Israel the testament from which they will draw their hope and faith in the difficult years to come: “Hashem will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land to the land of which He swore to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov.”
“I will divide them (Shimon & Levi) among the rest of Yaakov and I will spread them among Yisroel” (Bereishis 49:7)
Shortly before his death, Yaakov gave each of his sons a personal brocha. Concerning Shimon and Levi, he gave them a harsh rebuke for the violence they did against Shechem after the incident with Dina. In the brocha, he promises that Shimon and Levi will be spread throughout Israel, not having their own place. On the face, it doesn’t seem to be much of a brocha, but rather a curse.
The Chasam Sofer explains that this is a brocha. True, Shimon and Levi overreacted with violence, however they did it with honorable intentions. The other brothers, on the other hand didn’t do a thing, which was also incorrect. Therefore, Yaakov was saying, “I’ll take away some of the anger of Shimon and Levi and spread it among the other brothers for they need more than they have now. Then they will all have this trait in a proper amount.”
Every human middah (virtue) has a place in our lives. Even anger. But each virtue needs to be used in its proper time and in proper amounts.
Every middah has its place and its use. Sometimes, when we think we are doing the “nice” thing, we can be doing the wrong thing, and it could result in disaster.
Have a great Shabbos!