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Lion Blessings

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Topic: Blessing on Dan and Yehudah

Josh Wisotsky from Jamaica Estates, New York City wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

We read on Simchat Torah about the blessings of all of the sons of Yaakov. When it came to Dan, Moshe said "Dan Gur Aryeh - Dan is like a lion" (roughly translated). When Yaakov dies he blesses his sons. In that Parsha it says: "Gur Aryeh Yehudah - Yehudah is like a lion." Is this a contradiction? Why does the Torah compare Yehudah to a lion cub and then Dan to a lion cub at the end of the Torah? Thank you very much.

Dear Josh Wisotsky,

Yaakov conferred the blessing of "lion" upon Yehuda for two reasons: That just as the lion is "king of the beasts," so too would Yehuda rule over the Jewish People, and that Yehuda should be blessed with the courage of the lion.

In the end of the Torah two tribes are "lion-blessed" -Dan in the verse you mentioned, and Gad in the verse "like a lion he dwells." Rashi explains that both these tribes needed additional bravery because of their geographic location. Gad's portion was on the east bank of the Jordan and therefore exposed to invasion. Dan's portion was situated on the sea shore and exposed to piracy. Sources:

  • Rashi Deutoronomy 33:20, 22
  • Rashi Genesis 49:9

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