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The Tribe of Dan: The Power to Conquer Adversity



​In this series of articles we will delve deeply into the secrets of the twelve holy tribes of Hashem that everyone is familiar with.

The Zohar teaches us that the 12 holy tribes of Hashem correspond each to one camp that surrounds the Shechinah constantly in the higher world of Atzilut. As we know, the Shechinah is represented by the Sephirah of Malkhut and so each of the tribes correspond to an aspect of the 6 Sephirot above it; Chessed (lovingkindness), Gevurah (power), Tiferet(beauty and truth), Netzach (eternity), Hod (splendor) and Yesod (foundation), each Sephirah for 2 tribes, one representing its male part and the other, its female part.

​According to the Arizal each of the tribes and Sephirot also correspond to each of the months of the Jewish Calendar. Their power has direct impact on how divine providence is active throughout the year and this also effects the type of Tikkun (rectification) we need to focus on.

Spiritual Source of the Tribe of Dan

The Tribe of Dan is connected to the dim month of Tevet, in which we have only the fast of the 10th to commemorate. It’s a time of din (judgment), which is related to the root of the name of this tribe and a period of time which is not very fortunate for the Jewish People. Many sources in Jewish Literature point out the Tribe of Dan as being the “least distinguished”. This distinction might seem unfair and uncalled for, but we will also see the blessings and lessons the Tribe of Dan brings us.

One of the reasons given for this diminishing appellation is that the members of the Tribe of Danwere the last one to move while the Jewish people was in the desert. While they were mighty warriors, being able to slice their enemies all through the shoulder line with their swords, the Tribe of Dan was still regarded as the least impressive. Physical strength has never really been highly regarded. Also, the Torah calls them the “collectors” because they were charged with picking up lost items that were left behind from the other tribes.

Some Midrashim related to the Tribe of Dan

We know that Avraham Avinu was granted supernal strength when he waged war against the alliance of 4 kings in the battle of Siddim. As Avraham Avinu pursued the defeated armies, he reached all the way to the territory of Dan, his powers waned and he realized he had reached the place where, in the future, there would be a golden calf, for the same purpose as that of the desert.

Yet, Hashem in his great mercy gave us much to learn from the Tribe of Dan. Our sages relate to us in the Midrash and Talmud that Chushim, the only son of Dan was deaf mute and weak looking. When Yaakov Avinu passed away in Mitzraim (Egypt), his sons brought his embalmed body to be interred in the Mearat HaMachpelah.

Just when they were approaching his holy resting place, the wicked Esav showed up and contended that, when he sold the birthright, he didn’t intend to include the right to be buried next to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs! Fearing a confrontation on the day of mourning for Yaakov Avinu, his sons sent Naftali (the most agile of them) to run to Mitzraim to get the deed that stated the last place in the cave belonged to their father.

During the wait, Chushim wondered what the commotion was all about. It was then explained to him that Esav was causing all the delay, arguing that the last burial plot belonged to him. In his righteous fury, Chushim exclaimed “Our holy father is waiting to be buried and being dishonored because of this Rasha?!” Immediately, he took a sword (some sources say a club) and cut of Esav’s head, making it roll all the way to Yitzchak’s burial place.

As a reward for his bravery, Hashem blessed Chushim to father a multitude of powerful descendants.

Shimshon, the Tzadik from Dan

This story brings to mind the accounts of the mighty Shimshon, a holy nazir of the highest spiritual levels, who would single handedly deliver the Jewish people from the Philistines descended from him.Shimshon also came from the tribe of Dan. Contrary to popular thinking, he was not some weight lifter mindless grunt, but a holy Tzaddik, who was also limp in both legs.

Shimshon, representative of the holy side of the Tribe of Dan, couldn’t move properly. Yet, he was granted supernatural powers by Hashem himself in order to defeat the evil counterpart of his tribe, the Philistines, who came from the same spiritual source, according to the Maharal of Prague.

In Sha’ar HaGilgulim (Gate of Reincarnations) 36:4, the Arizal explains that Shimshon’s Tikkun in life was in large part connected to that of Nadav and Avihu, which sinned with the Ketoret (incense). The Ketoretwas the highest of the offerings, which were misused by the two holy sons of Aharon HaKohen. They sinned because they weren’t married. Shimshon, on the other hand went to the other side of the equation, marrying Philistine women to achieve the necessary Tikkun. In fact, our sages teach that he was blessed to have sexual power beyond the ordinary, and in order to rectify the souls of Nadav and Avihu, he was forced to have intercourse with Philistine women while in jail.Further, the Arizal explains that, because Nadav and Avihu were intoxicated when they sinned, Shimshon had to abstain from wine from birth, in order to rectify this part of their error.

Concluding remarks

The Tribe of Dan teaches us not to judge anyone by external apparencies and how, in an instant, someone in an incredibly disadvantageous position might surge skyward and “come out on top”. Here we had the son of apparently the most undistinguished tribe, who was deaf mute and also weak, kill the worst tyrant who ever lived in the history of mankind.Similarly, one of the most misunderstood characters in all of Tanach is actually a tremendous Tzadik from the same tribe.

May we take inspiration to never lose Emuna and to keep fighting the good fight in life, and look up to Hashem for Salvation, which can come in an instant. As Yaakov Avinu said when he blessed the tribe of Dan “For your Salvation, Hashem, do I hope.”



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