Where Every Jew is Family

His Final Cabinet Pick


It’s been a rough transition period.  After a narrow victory, he’s been amassing the people he wants close to him getting ready to move in.  This week, the final person is picked.

Okay, maybe picked isn’t the right word.  How about born.  The last of Jacob’s 12 sons is born in this week’s parsha.  That youngest child is of course Benjamin.  His name is a combination of two words: ben (son) and yamin (right hand).  This might be a strange name, but even stranger is how he got it.

When he was born, his mother, Rachel, died during childbirth.  But before she passed away, she named her son Ben-oni.  This name means son of my pain.  Not exactly what you’d want to hear as you’re walking across the graduation stage.  Jacob changes the child’s name to Benjamin.

In addition to meaning right, yamin is also a biblical reference to south (since the south is to your right when facing east).  Benjamin was the only one of the 12 sons to be born in Israel.  And, compared to where Jacob was living previously, Israel was to the south.

And there is yet another meaning to the name Benjamin (Jewish names are deep, ok).  It can also mean son of days since Jacob was very old when Benjamin was born.

And finally, this whole episode occurs just after Jacob’s name is changed to Israel.

I believe this is all connected.  You see, the land of Israel is comparable to all of these things.  It is our pain.  Certainly with regards to recent events that have befallen the Jewish people in the land of Israel, our hearts go out to them and there pain is our pain.  When we pray facing east, we are directing our hearts to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple (which is in the territory of Benjamin).  And finally, Israel is certainly ancient.  Our connection to the land of Israel runs long and deep.  It is our land, our people and our home.

But, as I said, this is all in connection to Jacab being called Israel.  It’s not just about the land.  Perhaps more importantly, it’s about the people.  Each individual Jew is intrinsically connected to another.  When one Jew feels pain, we all do.  When one feels joy, we celebrate with him/her.  So love and connect to your fellow Jew.

This Wednesday is the anniversary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s wedding day in 1928.  At the wedding, the Rebbe famously said that “This day, I become connect to you and you become connected to me.”  The chassidim are connected to the Rebbe and he to us.  But it’s not just the chassidim.  The Rebbe was one of the most, if not THE most, influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century.  He was not just connected to me as his chassid and emmisary, but to you and every other Jew.  His care and love extends to all.  So let’s live by that example and connect to each other and love each other.

Thanks for farbrenging with me 🙂
~Rabbi Yossi

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