By Doni Cohen
Former Shaliach in Melbourne (2017 – 18)
Currently studying Political Science at Hebrew University


One of the greatest challenges of a shaliach is to somehow create an environment that no matter what the child, university student, adult or senior citizen does with the rest of his time – when that same person enters the classroom, Bnei Akiva building, Beit Midrash or Beit Knesset, he feels comfortable, like he’s part of the family, like he belongs.

In this week’s parsha, after the story of Shimon and Levi taking mass revenge for the rape of their sister Dina, there is a seemingly superfluous pasuk which, if understood in context, could be one of the most important psukim we read.

The pasuk reads: “And Yisrael (Ya’akov Avinu) heard [of the acts of Shimon and Levi]; and the children of Ya’akov were twelve”

The obvious question is asked: Do we not know how many sons Ya’akov has? What is the point of this seemingly obvious statement?

Rav David Stav gives a beautiful answer:
It is well known that Ya’akov did not approve of Shimon and Levi’s actions. He thought that they grossly exaggerated in their response to Dina being raped. He even says so on his deathbed in Parshat VaYechi, talking about the havoc that his two sons created and how dangerous they are.
However, Ya’akov, despite his non-approval of their actions, did not kick them out of the house, did not disown them, and did not distance himself. The Torah tries to tell us that with this pasuk.

Until now, Avraham and Yitzchak both had sons that they sent away, that were not fit to continue the family line, that were not worthy of being part of the family.

Not so this time. That is precisely why the pasuk uses Ya’akov’s other name first in the pasuk – “Yisrael”. We may not agree with many other people in Am Yisrael; their actions may even disgust us, but they are still part of our family. We should always make them feel like they can come back, can reconnect, and feel part of our great nation.