Every trait in the right proportions

Yaakov is on his death bed and saying his final words to his sons. He scolds Reuven and Shimon for being too quick to anger, when they destroyed a whole city for kidnapping their sister, Dinah. “I will divide them among the rest of Yaakov and I will spread them among Israel.” Rashi explains that this implied that as poor people, scribes and teachers of young children, the tribe of Shimon will be scattered across the kingdom, travelling to make a living and the tribe of Levi who were not given a portion in the Land of Israel would have to travel around the country to threshing floors for their terumot ( the portion of the yaerly crop the Torah prescribes for Leviim).

The Chaim Sofer offers a different slant on this verse and says that the dividing and spreading in this verse refers to the anger of the tribes of Shimon and Levi. Shimon and Levi overacted with violence. But the other tribes did nothing for the benefit of Dinah. This was improper for they should have taken some action. Therefore Yaakov said “I will 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.”

This is very interesting because it means that there is place for the trait of  ‘anger. Rabbi Pliskin adds that “anger causes inner physiological reactions that give one more physical strength and energy. But this should only be used in situations when this physical strength is needed for self-defense or to defend others not in daily situations.

“The Hebrew word for trait is ‘midah’ which means measure. One must study Torah sources to clarify the right time, place and amount for each trait. To be a complete person every trait must be used. Fortunate is the person who has mastered a proper balance”

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