Kenneth Cohen

Jewish Sensitivity

It is always fascinating to see how the Torah emphasizes the importance of sensitivity we are supposed to have, in our interaction with others.

We see this by closely examining the text of the Torah. Moshe Rabbeinu is given his last command, before leaving this world. He is told to take revenge against Midyan, for their role in causing a deadly plague against Israel.

Moshe is to gather one thousand warriors from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The wording of the text is the use of the word, וימסרו, “they were handed over.” The Baal Haturim pointed out that it should have written, that the heads of each tribe helped Moshe gather his army.

The reason the word וימסרו was used, was to show sensitivity to the Tribe of Shimon. Their leader, Zimri, who was also known as Shlumiel Ben Tzurishadai, was put to death in disgrace by Pinchas. And the 24,000 that died in the plague, were all from Shimon.

By using the words, “that they were handed over,” it was clearly with the intent of not adding insult to injury. The Tribe of Shimon, had suffered enough. The Torah is teaching compassion and sensitivity, that is a clear sign of the true nature of a Jew.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at