The tribe of Benjamin teaches us the transformative power of making the profane holy. * Benjamin's role serves as a model for our individual and collective journey towards a world suffused with the divine. * On the second reading of Parshas Zot Habracha.
"In the beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; who shelters him all the day long, and he shall dwell between His shoulders" (Deuteronomy 33:12). This blessing for the tribe of Benjamin is far more than poetic imagery; it encapsulates the power and promise of transforming the profane into the holy.
The verse is part of Moses' final blessings to the Israelite tribes in the Torah portion of Zot Habracha. Each tribe receives a blessing that encapsulates its essence and mission. For Benjamin, the blessing suggests a unique form of closeness to God—dwelling "between His shoulders." This is our starting point for understanding Benjamin's role as a transformative force between the secular and the divine.
THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF BENJAMIN
Rashi explains that the phrase "between His shoulders" refers to the Holy of Holies in the Temple, situated in Benjamin’s territory. This is no mere geographic detail; it is a statement about Benjamin's spiritual DNA. The tribe is intrinsically connected to the holiest place in the world, pointing to its unique role in bringing sanctity into the world.
The Mei Ha'Shiloach, a Hasidic commentary, elaborates on this idea. It says that Benjamin is likened to a "wolf that rips apart" to indicate the tribe's capacity to "rip apart" the facade of the profane to reveal the hidden holiness within. When the Mei Ha'Shiloach states that Benjamin takes "every good and holy spark he sees among non-Jews and brings it into holiness," it showcases the tribe’s role as a spiritual converter, turning the secular into the sacred.
There are times when our life circumstances or choices place us far from obvious holiness. Yet, the example of Benjamin urges us to look for the "sparks" of divinity that are hidden in those settings. The point isn't to escape from the secular world but to transform it. By doing this, we participate in the larger work of making the entire world a sanctuary of holiness.
The ability to discern and elevate hidden sanctity is also a preview of what Jewish tradition teaches about the Messianic age. In that era, distinctions between holy and profane will be dissolved, as the inherent sanctity of all things becomes manifest. Every act of transforming the profane into the holy today is a step towards that ultimate reality.
The blessing of Benjamin captures an often overlooked but transformative power: the capacity to make the secular sacred. His model is a guide for spiritual living, a way to enact in our daily lives the grand Jewish vision of a world redeemed and suffused with holiness.