How do we know the difference between good and bad judgment? How do we know the choices we make are the right ones? What do we allow to influence us? What we do allow to blur our vision? What do we use to clear our eyes, our hearts, and our minds to turn back to the right path? Where do we cross the line between right and wrong, and do the ends justify the means? These are the questions that the Tribe of Dan, the tribe associated with the month of Tevet (טֵבֵת), asks us.
Dan (דָּן) is the son of Jacob and Rachel, through her handmaiden Bilhah. He is the full brother of Naphtali. Some midrash say that Dan is the one who suggested dipping Joseph’s coat in the blood of a goat (the astrological symbol of Tevet – גדי) because he hated him for giving “evil” reports to Jacob about the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah. (Jewish Encyclopedia) Dan is represented, historically, by two different emblems. He, and the tribe, are represented by scales because the name “dan” means judgement. He, and the tribe, are also represented by a snake or serpent because of the blessing from Jacob in Genesis 49:17, which actually contains both the snake (49:17) and judgment (49:16) themes.
Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that biteth the horse’s heels, so that his rider falleth backward.
דָּן, יָדִין עַמּוֹ–כְּאַחַד, שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.יְהִי-דָן נָחָשׁ עֲלֵי-דֶרֶךְ, שְׁפִיפֹן עֲלֵי-אֹרַח–הַנֹּשֵׁךְ, עִקְּבֵי-סוּס, וַיִּפֹּל רֹכְבוֹ, אָחוֹר
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