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The Left Side

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Ki Savo

Sep 16, 2011

Parshas Ki Savo



In Parshas Ki Savo  (perek 27 pasuk 12-14) the Torah writes that at Har Gerizim and Har Eval the Bnei Yisroel split into 3 different sections. On Har Gerizim were the Tribes of Simon, Levi, Yehudah, Yissachar, Yosef (the tribes of Menasheh and Ephraim combined), and Binyomin. The Tribes of Reuven, Gad, Asher, Zevulun, Dan, and Naftali were on Har Eval. In the valley below were the Kohanim along with the Elders of the Tribe of Levi. On the mountain of Har Gerizim the Bnei Yisroel were blessed and on the mountain of Har Eval they were cursed. This doesn't mean that those tribes on Har Eval were worthy of bring cursed. Just like we give a blessing to improve our strengths we curse to eliminate our weaknesses. Only if we commit sins do the curses actually harm us. 


The question is, why does Hashem tell Moshe to break up the Bnei Yisroel in this order? On the surface there seems to be no logical rationale for the order of the split-up. 


To understand this fully we need to understand the makeup of the Jewish people. In the Bnei Yisroel there are two segments. At Har Gerizim and Har Eval we were split into right and left halves corresponding to the two types of Jews. Har Gerizim being our right side and Har Eval our left. In the Bnei Yisroel the right represents our ultimate goal as Jews to learn Torah and follow the laws given us. The tribes on Har Gerizim represent that goal. The left is the hand that complements the right. It assists the right in the attainment of its goals. The left pushes away the improper influences, so that the right is free to grasp the proper things in life.  


In this light we can gain an understanding in the placement of the tribes. The children of Rachel and Leah (except for Reuven and Zevulun) were on Har Gerizim. Those on Har Eval were the Bnei Hashfachos - the offspring of the maidservants. (Gad, Asher, Dan, Naftali), plus Reuven, and Zevulun. The very creation of "avdus" - slavery, came about through a curse. When Cham revealed his father Noach's nakedness, his son Canaan was cursed with the lot of slavery. A slave is the "left hand" of his master. He finds fulfillment by serving his master. He has no goal in his own right. A Jew's role is that of an "eved Hashem". A slave of a Jew finds perfection by being the "eved" of an "eved Hashem".  


This is the reason that the tribes who descended from the maid-servants of Rochel and Leah were situated on the left mountain, Har Eval. Their task in life is to ensure that the curses do not befall the Bnei Yisroel. 


So why Reuven and Zevulun? Reuven means "See the Difference"  or "Reu Bein" in Hebrew. He is the difference between Yaakov and Esav. Reuven is what Esav should have been when he lost the Bechora (right of the first born). Reuven was accepting and didn't hold the grudge of hatred for his brother Yosef, as opposed to  Esav's emotions and actions towards his brother Yaakov. He was the left that Esav should have been to Yaakov, just like Har Eval was the left to Har Gerizim. Concerning Zevulun we learn when Yaakov was giving out the brachos to the brothers that he will support Yissachar when they arrive in Israel and get part of his reward. This was supposed to be the relationship between Yaakov and Esav. Esav was supposed to be Zevulun and support Yaakov. These comparisons represent the left side of the Bnei Yisroel and were the reasons why Reuven and Zevulun were also on Har Eval.   

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