Shoftim: G-d’s Commando

August 24, 2022

The tribe of Levi is G-d’s “special unit,” tasked with teaching G-d’s ways to the public. Did you know that nowadays this service isn’t restricted to those born into the tribe of Levi, and is open to volunteers?

A. 24 Priestly Divisions

When the Temple stood, priests served in twenty-four divisions (Source 1). Those divisions were very significant in the life of the people of Israel, and remained so for many years.

B. VIP Access

Rashi teaches that a priest who belongs to a certain division can come at any time of the year and offer a personal sacrifice in the Temple. He can even join the service of the other priests during the holidays. (Source 2)

C. Open to All

The temple exists spiritually even in our time – in the soul of every individual. Therefore, the services performed in the Temple also exist in our service of G-d today. 

Rashi teaches that when a priest volunteers to come to the Temple during another shift, the Torah allows him to serve even then. From this we can learn a teaching applicable to our own lives.

Although the actual tribe of Levi is the tribe that is ordained to be connected to G-d and serve Him in the fullest sense of the word, any Jew from another tribe can also volunteer for this noble service. We see from the words of the Rambam that not only does the Torah allow him to do so, G-d even sanctifies him to be like the tribe of Levi (Source 3).

D. Practically speaking…

From the Rambam’s language that “person and person” can be from the tribe of Levi, it is understood that he refers to two types of people – those involved in full time Torah study, and those involved with worldly occupations. Being of the tribe of Levi does not mean a person who studies all day, but a person who volunteers to serve G-d fully. And this can be done both by scholars as well as lay people.

Interestingly, the Rebbe points out that the Rambam’s words, “Every person and person in the whole world”, indicate that even a Gentile from the nations of the world, can reach this level!



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