Israel Forever

For the week ending 27 May 2006 / 29 Iyyar 5766

The Special People

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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“I have taken the Levites from among the Children of Israel in place of the first-born.”

This is the declaration by G-d in this week’s Torah portion regarding the special status of the Tribe of Levy. Sanctified by G-d on the day that He slew the Egyptian first-born, the Levites were not only counted apart from the rest of the nation but were also set apart from all other Jews in other ways. This is how the Rambam (Laws of Shemitah and Yovel 13:12) describes their status:

“Why did the Levites not receive a share of Eretz Yisrael or share in its spoils? Because they were set apart to serve G-d, to perform His sacred service and to teach His proper ways and righteous laws to the public… They were therefore removed from worldly ways. They do not fight in wars. They are the army of G-d and He provides them with their needs.

“And it is not for the Levites alone. Every person in the world who takes it upon himself to serve G-d and to abandon all the many material considerations which motivate people, such a person is sanctified and all his needs will be provided just as they were for the Kohanim and Levites.”

What a powerful lesson this should offer for those in Israel who still fail to appreciate the role of the modern-day Levites, the yeshiva students who are the best guarantee for Israel forever.

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