1. The special position of the firstborn - with regard to Divine service - is replaced in this week's parasha by the Levites. This seems to follow a pattern well-established in Breishit in which the firstborn are passed over in favor of younger siblings. Both favoring firstborns and passing over them create dilemmas in family dynamics, and the problems can last for decades or longer. What problems emerge from each of those choices? What can parents do to navigate between those dangers?

  2. The tribe of Levi is set apart from the others in multiple ways. It is not counted together with the others, it is not included in the regular encampment, it does not fight in the regular army, it alone is entrusted with safeguarding the Sanctuary, and many more. Modern Western societies shun the notion of a permanent class who, by virtue of their birth, have a different standing in society. How are we to understand the Torah's choice of a permanent class of people set aside from the rest? Are their benefits to such a system?

link to lookstein.org