Benjamin

Benjamin בנימין

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“Benjamin is a predatory wolf; in the morning he will devour prey, and in the evening he will distribute spoils.” (Genesis 49:27)

“Of Benjamin he said: may Hashem’s beloved dwell securely by him; He hovers over him all day long; and rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

“Benjamin,”is perhaps the most complex and dramatic of the series.  Benjamin was the final and most beloved son of Jacob.  Jacob and his wives departed from Laban to return to the Land of Israel.  When they arrived in Efrath, Rachel, Jacob’s most beloved wife, died in childbirth as she bore Jacob his twelfth son.  As her soul left her, she named him Ben-Oni, the son of my suffering, and Jacob named him Benjamin.  Rachel’s two sons, Benjamin and Joseph, share a deep eternal bond as her only two children after many years of suffering.  When Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, it was Benjamin he wanted to see before he revealed himself to his brothers.  The brothers beseeched Jacob to allow them to bring Benjamin down to Egypt.  Only after Judah swore to return Benjamin to his father, did Jacob concede to allow him to go.  When Joseph saw his beloved maternal brother he could not control himself and ran to another room to weep.  When he sent the brothers home, he gave Benjamin five times the portion of the other brothers and commanded his servant to place his silver goblet in the sack of Benjamin.  Upon sending them away, the servant was sent to search for the goblet, and the goblet was found in Benjamin’s sack.  After the brothers proved their loyalty to Jacob and their regret for their mistreatment of Joseph, he revealed himself and fell upon Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on Joseph’s neck.  The Talmud tells us that they were not weeping from their own grief, but for the pain of the destruction of the two Temples that resided in the portion of Benjamin.  Since Benjamin was the most beloved of Jacob’s sons, the Temple was placed in his land.  Before the Temple was built, the Tabernacle resided in Shilo for many years, which was also in the land of Benjamin.  The Sages say that every year on the fifteenth day of Av, the young women would dress in white clothing and dance in the vineyards of Shilo, and the men would come and observe them in order to find a mate. This is depicted in the ear of the wolf.

The verse depicts Benjamin as a wolf who mauls at dawn and dusk.  The Sages say that this is a reference to Saul, the first King of Israel, who ruled over the Jewish people at the dawn of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.  After the setting of the sun on the Davidic dynasty, the tribe of Benjamin ruled over the Jewish people once again.  Mordechai, the Benjaminite, and Esther were the ones who foiled the plan of Haman, and therefore “distributed his plunder,” which is a reference to Mordechai’s rulership over the Jewish people.

One of the greatest feats of the tribe of Benjamin was at the splitting of the red sea.  As the Egyptian army closed in on the Jewish people, G-d sent a great pillar of fire to divide between them and His nation.  The Jews were trapped and frightened.  The brave Nachson ben Aminadav of the tribe of Benjamin waded into the sea, and the sages tell us that the entire tribe of Benjamin followed him.  Upon seeing their commitment and ultimate belief, G-d split the sea saving the Jewish from certain destruction.