Where are the Other Tribes? – 5783 Va’era Aliyah by Aliyah

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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.

Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.


This week’s Torah Portion is Va’era: Exodus 6:2-9:35. The focus of this “Aliyah by Aliyah” will be the second aliyah.

Aliyah 2 – Exodus 6:14-28

Exodus 6:14 These were the heads of their families: the sons of Re’uven the firstborn of Isra’el were Hanokh, Pallu, Hetzron and Karmi. These were the families of Re’uven.

EXO 6:14

The Tribes of Israel are directly connected to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are heirs to the promises and their slavery and redemption were told to Abraham even before Isaac was born.

Exodus 6:15 The sons of Shim‘on were Y’mu’el, Yamin, Ohad, Yakhin, Tzochar and Sha’ul the son of a Kena‘ani woman. These were the families of Shim‘on.

EXO 6:15

Jacob said Simeon would be scattered in the Land of Israel. Here, we see Simeon is still an entity awaiting that destiny.

Exodus 6:16 These are the names of the sons of Levi with their descendants: Gershon, K’hat and M’rari. Levi lived to be 137 years old.

EXO 6:16

Why are we told how old Levi was when he died? We don’t get Simeon and Ruben’s ages.

Exodus 6:17 The sons of Gershon were Livni and Shim‘i, with their families.

EXO 6:17

I want to look at the Hebrew and see how similar the names Livni and Shim’i are to Levi and Simeon. It seems to me they are a jumble of each other. Is that due to the close relationship between the brothers?

Exodus 6:18 The sons of K’hat were ‘Amram, Yitz’har, Hevron and ‘Uzi’el. K’hat lived to be 133 years old.

EXO 6:18

We also learn the age of Kohath, but not his brothers Gershon or Merari. Is that because Kohath is the son of choice, like Jacob and Isaac?

Exodus 6:19 The sons of M’rari were Machli and Mushi. These were the families of Levi with their descendants.

EXO 6:19

There are 11 sons of Levi in total counted here, 3 clans or families.

Exodus 6:20 ‘Amram married Yokheved his father’s sister, and she bore him Aharon and Moshe. ‘Amram lived to be 137 years old.

EXO 6:20

Again, we get the age for Amram, like Kohath and Levi before him. I suspect this indicates he is the firstborn son as well, which indicates one of his son’s should inherit that status and responsibility as well.

Exodus 6:21 The sons of Yitz’har were Korach, Nefeg and Zikhri.

EXO 6:21

This Korah is the same cousin Korah who will lead a rebellion against Moses and Aaron years later.

Exodus 6:22 The sons of ‘Uzi’el were Misha’el, Eltzafan and Sitri.

EXO 6:22

These are the sons of Kohath’s 4th son.

Exodus 6:23 Aharon married Elisheva daughter of ‘Amminadav and sister of Nachshon, and she bore him Nadav, Avihu, El‘azar and Itamar.

EXO 6:23

Aaron has 4 sons just like his father. Elisheva is from the Tribe of Judah, her brother Amminadav is the prince of Judah.

Exodus 6:24 The sons of Korach were Asir, Elkanah and Avi’asaf. These were the Korchi families.

EXO 6:24

Some of the Psalms were written by Korah’s sons.

Exodus 6:25 El‘azar the son of Aharon married one of the daughters of Puti’el, and she bore him Pinchas. These were the heads of the families of Levi, family by family.

EXO 6:25

Pinchas, or Phineas, is one of the few people to have a Torah Portion named after him.

Exodus 6:26 These are the Aharon and Moshe to whom HaShem said, “Bring the people of Isra’el out of the land of Egypt, division by division,”

EXO 6:26

This section feels like it is partly here to establish Moses and Aaron’s credentials

Exodus 6:27 and who told Pharaoh king of Egypt, to let the people of Isra’el leave Egypt. These are the same Moshe and Aharon.

EXO 6:27

I wonder why the repetition is here, to make extra sure to clarify that this  Aaron and Moses are the Aaron and Moses of the Exodus account.

Exodus 6:28 On the day when HaShem spoke to Moshe in the land of Egypt,

EXO 6:28

This is an odd verse. The verses were actually added by Christians initially and Jewish codifiers did their own numbering as well. The verse counts and distributions differ. Why did either party cause this verse to be a fragment sentence, I can not say.


Closing Questions

Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.

1. Why are Ruben and Simeon in this Genealogy?

2. Why did Amram marry his aunt?

3. Where are the other Tribes?


That concludes my journey through Va’era for the year 5783.

I hope these words have been a blessing to you.

May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.

This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.

Published by MJ Muñoz

Husband. Father. Believer. Writing a children's books series inspired by tokusatsu. Weekly Toku Analysis - https://mjmunoz.com/category/analyzer/

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