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Are you descended from the Ten Lost Tribes?

Friday, 27 March, 2015 - 1:45 pm

Dear Friends,

There is a Jewish custom that on the first twelve days in the month of Nissan we recite a passage from the Torah that describes the offering of the tribal leaders at the time of the dedication of the Tabernacle in the year 2449. Each day we read about the tribal prince who brought the offering on that corresponding day of Nissan. Following this we recite a prayer asking G-d, that if we are descended from the tribe of that day, may all of the holy energy and blessing associated with that tribe be brought upon us.

The question is, ten of the twelve tribes were sent into exile never to be heard from again, when the Assyrians conquered the Northern kingdom of Israel in Samaria and Galilee. Only the tribes that remained in the Southern kingdom of Judea survived. So beyond Judah and Benjamin (and of course the priestly tribe of Levi) there should be no current Jews descending from any other tribes. So why would we recite a prayer that seems to be completely in vain on ten of the twelve days?

I offer two answers, one pragmatic and the second mystical. When the 10 tribes broke away to form the Northern kingdom, within no time, corruption, idolatry and general rebellion against Jewish ideals set in. Baal worship became the norm. Idols were set up to replace the temple in Jerusalem and guards were put in place to discourage the pilgrimage to the holy city because it was under the rule of the Davidic dynasty – the Kings of Judea. A decent number of Jews who wished to remain faithful to G-d moved to the Southern kingdom where that was more likely to be possible. So that means that when the Babylonians exiled the Jews of Judea, among them were also members of the ten tribes of the Northern kingdom.

The mystical answer is, that our souls can contain sparks of the souls of people that are not our actual ancestors. Therefore it is entirely possible that the soul of a Benjaminite or a Levite can contain the spark of soul that was from one of the ten lost tribes. As such this prayer is completely appropriate. This also gives us another layer of insight into the notion of Jewish unity. We are all made up of sparks of the different tribes thereby lessening the differences between us and highlighting the commonalities. This is an especially proper thought to consider as we approach Pesach – the holiday that celebrates the birth of our nation.

Mazel Tov to Chezky and Devorah Leah Binkowitz upon their marriage. May Hashem continue to shower your journey and lives with blessing!

Our community mourns the passing of Mrs. Ann Brum. Grandma Ann, as she was known, was an integral part of the lives of so many of us and she will be missed. Our heartfelt condolences to her sons, Charlie and Morris, their wives, Sandra and Marilyn, and her grandchildren, Sarah, Miriam and Yaakov and their families. May Hashem comfort them among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Morris will be returning to New Orleans for the last night of Shiva. There will be a minyan for Mincha/Maariv followed by visitation at 7 PM on Sunday night. The address is 5520 S. Johnson St. between Joseph and Octavia.

There will be a farbrengen at the Ceitlin home on Monday evening at 8 PM in honor of Nissan 11, the Rebbe’s birthday.

To sell your Chametz online, go to www.chabadneworleans.com/271377.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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