Our father Jacob blessed his sons, before his death. At the end of the blessings (Gen 49:28) the Torah concludes: "All these are the tribes of Israel, twelve, and this is what their father [Jacob] spoke to them and blessed them, each man according to his blessing, he [Jacob] blessed them."

Rashi asks: "The verse should have only said, ‘Each man according to his blessing, he blessed him’; what is the Torah trying to teach us by saying, 'He blessed them'?"
Rashi then answers: "Because he [Jacob] gave [the blessings specifically]: to Judah the strength of the lion, and to Benjamin the wolf’s ability to seize, and to Naphtali the swiftness of the deer, you might think that Jacob did not include all of the brothers in all of the blessings, therefore the verse says, 'He [Jacob] blessed [all of] them' [with all of the blessings]."

We need to understand: why was it not enough for each tribe to get just their own blessing? Why was it necessary for all of them to be included together in every blessing? And if they are all included in each individual blessing, what is the difference between one tribe and another?

In order to understand this matter, we need to explain the "Law of Inclusion" [in Hebrew, "hitkalelut"]. In the wisdom of Kabbalah, we find that all things in existence are divided into four levels which, from the lower to the higher, are called [in literal translation from the Hebrew]: 1) Still (matter, "mineral"), 2) Growing (plant), 3) Moving (animal), and 4) Speaking (human). The lowest (matter) has less properties in its composition, and therefore naturally has less needs and consequently the least movement. Man belongs to the category of the speaking and his soul’s properties are the greatest; consequently his needs are the greatest and likewise his movements are the greatest, for he is able to travel across the entire globe of the Earth. Indeed, in our times the Earth has become insufficient, and man wants to fly to the planets and stars in space. Since man is the most developed creation of all, the properties of all of the other created matter, especially their soul aspects, must be included in man, because it is man's mission to develop and refine all the created matter and humanity.

Whatever is more highly developed will be slower in its formative process.

There is another rule: Whatever is more highly developed will be slower in its formative process. We see that an animal on the same day that it is born already stands on its feet and continues so until the end of its days. This is not the same for man. At first, as a baby, he lays there like an inanimate object. Afterwards he crawls, and thereafter he walks and sits, etc.

Man was blessed with the power of thought and judgment. Therefore, he cannot have just a single property to his composition, but must contain all of the properties of all creation, since he needs to know and judge when to behave with differing aspects such as the attribute of lovingkindness, and when with sternness; when speedily and when with patience; and those times when a mixture of attributes is called for.

These levels of inanimate, plant, animal, and speaking are also found within man himself. For example, a person who does not have a great desire, does not have needs. Therefore, he is considered at the level of inanimate matter, and so on.

Now we can understand why Jacob blessed all of his sons, that all of the properties of the blessings should be included in each of them. Thus, it is written in Ethics of the Fathers: [(5:20), also quoted and explained in Shulchan Aruch Harav (1:1)] "Judah the son of Teimah says, ‘Be strong like a lion, run like a deer, be mighty as a leopard, and light as an eagle.’" Animals, since they do not have the role of refining the world and developing it, they have but one significant property in their makeup, which they need only to maintain their own existence, to obtain sufficient food for themselves, and to protect themselves from other predators. This is not the case with man. All properties of created matter must be included in him so that, as mentioned above, he can develop and refine all created matter and humanity.

What distinguishes one tribe from the next?

So what distinguishes one tribe from the next? Each one had a main property in its makeup. For example, Judah was compared to a lion, which is the attribute of Strength and war, yet he also possesses in some measure the properties of compassion and love (which are the specialties of different tribes). Still, strength was the quality unique to him.

When a person conducts himself with the appropriate attributes of behavior as a result of proper logical judgment, this is the true blessing, for then it is possible to develop humanity and bring blessing to the world.

Delivered orally; translated by David Devor from his notes and extensively edited by KabbalaOnline.org staff.

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