As the youngest of Yaakov’s sons, Binyamin is certainly one of the most mysterious. Each of the tribes seem to have a very definite calling, but we know little about Binyamin’s purpose as one of the Holy Tribes. He was beloved by Yosef and his father when he came to Egypt with his brothers.
The Month of Binyamin is Kislev and his flag bears the figure of a mighty wolf, which seems very puzzling given its nature. In one of the most tragic episodes from Tanach, that of the concubine of Gibe’ah, his Tribe is almost completely wiped out in one of the bloodies civil wars in Jewish History.
What deeper lessons are hidden in all of this and what can Binyamin teach us for our lives?
The Kingdom of Binyamin
It’s remarkable that the first king of Israel is actually not from the tribe of Yehuda, but from the tribe of Binyamin, and that was King Shaul. King Shaul was famed for being tall and having a beautiful neck, which at first seems strange. However, the Holy Temple is also called the neck of the world because it sustains the head and connects it to the entire body. Similarly, the Holy Temple draws down Godliness from Above and makes it irradiate down to Earth.
In the Torah, it’s written about the reunion between Yosef and Binyamin that “He fell upon his brother Binyamin’s “necks” and wept (Bereshit 45:14). The sages explain that necks here allude to each of the 2 Holy Temples. Thus, they teach us in Massechet Megillah 16b that Binyamin merited to have both Holy Temples built in his territory and he wept on Yosef’s neck for their future destructions.
One could surmise that this crying was also due to a heavy burden being lifted from Binyamin and Yosef’s relief from it. In the Zohar (1:259a), it’s written that when Yosef HaTzadik was sold to Egypt, his righteous brother Binyamin took his spiritual place, so he wouldn’t be missing.
Seeing that Yosef’s source is from the male Sephira of Yesod and Binyamin from the female Sephirah of Yesod, this reunion is indeed far too strong and holy to be put into words.
The secret work of Binyamin
As we mentioned, Binyamin’s Tribe has its spiritual source from the Sephirah of Yesod of Malkhut (the female aspect), the second lowest Sephirah in Atzilut. While a very high source indeed, it’s nevertheless susceptible to having its abundance sucked by the Sitra Achra (the “forces of evil”). This is because, the Arizal teaches, the dark side has the capacity to reach up to Malkhut and steal its sustenance when the Jewish people doesn’t act properly.
We can better understand how it was possible for Binyamin to be beaten by his brothers when they found the Viceroy’s (Yosef) chalice in his backpack and also his tribe to be nearly annihilated.
Binyamin is actually one of the 4 people in the entire history who never sinned and is also called by the appellation “Tzaddik”. Not only that, but he’s also credited with fathering the 10 tribes Yosef was supposed to have. The Zohar teaches us that, during Potifar’s wife’s last attempt to seduce him, Yosef carved his feet on the ground, and the seed that was supposed to father 12 tribes of his own left through his toes. He lost 10 tribes because of this misdeed, but Binyamin took these souls, fathering them and naming each according to one aspect of his relationship with his brother.
At the same time, we can better appreciate the struggle someone as Binyamin on such a high level has to go through in order to reach said level.
Rebbe Natan of Nemirov explains that we can’t imagine the suffering Tzadikim go through in order to reach the place they are in. At times, it may seem like all doors to salvation are closed, but he writes in Hishtapchut HaNefesh we must stubbornly stomp our feet on the ground and not move. To the rest of the people, they seem to live pretty ordinary lives, but incredible rectifications are being made.
This would indeed shed light on why the Tribe of Binyamin is represented by a wolf. As we know, when Hashem wanted to bring forth Creation, the vessels of the Supernal Worlds broke and fell into our lowly physical reality. We rectify them by elevating them to their source through our Torah, Mitzvot, acts of lovingkindness, prayer and unifications. The wolf is a ferocious and predatory animal that, contrary to the lion, brings his food to his cave in order to avoid attacks from other animals. He eats away from sight.
In a spiritual sense, the aspect of Binyamin is to hunt for the sparks that fell the lowest in the system of Creation and elevate (eat) them, in secrecy, much like the wolf does. This is because the highest form of service is that without any spotlights, hidden from the preying eyes.
I bless you that we derive inspiration from Binyamin the Tzaddik to our lives and keep our devotions in secret, tenaciously going through our challenges and, at the same time, boldly advancing like a wolf in our Avodat Hashem.
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue in spreading emuna! Help us spread Emuna in Israel and throughout the world by becoming a partner!