Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Confessions of a levi’s wife

In honor of Parshat Ki Tisa (which describes, inter alia*, how the leviim didn’t participate in Chet HaEgel and instead heeded Moshe’s cry, “whoever is for Hashem, join me,” – Shmot 32:26-29), this blog’s editorial board proudly presents:

Our Sh’fuchim:** The Life and Times of an Early 21st Century Wife and Mother of Leviim

1) First of all, I should confess that I didn’t discover YZG’s, er, levitical status until several weeks after we got engaged. (Note that this was even after I found out about his non-gebrokts tendencies)

It was a Shabbat morning, and to my surprise, YZG was called up to the Torah for – wait for it… – Levi.

After davening, we had the following exchange:

Me: {asks casually} You’re a levi?

YZG: {astonished} You didn’t know that?!

Me: {defensively} How should I have known? It’s not the kind of thing that usually comes up in conversation.

YZG: Yeah, but STILL…


2) Actually, there was a lot I didn’t know about being a levi.

I mean, I had no idea that leviim have to deal with all sorts of complex issues on a daily basis (Reason #5888 for Making Aliyah: Birkat Kohanim seven days a week), including:

  • Missing part of davening to go wash the kohanim’s hands.
  • Situations where there is one overworked levi  for dozens and dozens of kohanim.
  • Situations (such as our shul) where the leviim far outnumber the kohanim.
  • Sinks which aren’t designed for hand washing.
  • Kohanim who refuse to hold their hands over the sink and thus drip water on themselves and the leviim.
  • Does a levi get an aliyah if there are no kohanim present during laining?

And on a related note, the aforementioned editorial board would like to wish a very, very happy birthday to the wonderful levi who is now known across the country for his expert laining of Parshat Ki Tisa BA”H!

“כִּי שָׁמְרוּ אִמְרָתֶךָ וּבְרִיתְךָ יִנְצֹרוּ.”

“For they observed Your word, and Your covenant they preserved.” (Devarim 33:9)

“Shevet Levi is the chosen one of the tribes and is suited for the service of the House of Hashem… Because of their great stature and their skillful actions and the grace of their merit… They are men of pure heart who are known for their sterling traits and their venerable wisdom…” (Sefer HaChinuch 408)


* The time had come for the now (more or less) annual “Try and Use Inter Alia in a Sentence and Hope That You’re Doing So Correctly Celebration”. Feel free to join in… :-)

** Sh’fuchim – שפוכים – That which was spilled (plural). [See also my blog name post.]


  1. Speaking about that G 6 son said over my his son's Pidyon Haben a story that took place between Rav Shimon Schwab (The Rav of Khal Adas Yeshurin in Washington Heights) and the Chofetz Chaim they spent one shabbos together and the Chofetz Chaim asked him are you a Kohen? Which Rav Schwab responded no, the chofetz Chaim then asked are you a Levi? which he said no then the chofetz chaim said you know why I'm a Kohen and you are not it is because 3000 years ago when Moshe cried out "Whoever is for Hashem, join me" my Grandfather answered and your Grandfather didn't respond to the call, and he says whenever there is a call and you answer you don't know what kind of impact that will have on future generations

  2. Hey, we match, I'm also married to a levi! Except that I may have you beat - I didn't know that Dave was a levi until six years *after* we got married!

    Yes, it's a long story :)

  3. In the Shul that I belong to there are more Leviim than Kohanim it works out well because the Minhag is to have Bircas kohanin during Shacharis and Musaph so all get a turn and they have a nice pitcher and basin in the front of the Shul so they don't miss Davening.

  4. Yekke Wannabe(1) - Great story! Thanks for sharing it.
    "whenever there is a call and you answer you don't know what kind of impact that will have on future generations"
    In fact, this is one of the main reasons for making aliyah... :-)

    Toby - Wow! I'm VERY impressed!
    "I may have you beat"
    You're so far ahead of me that we're not even competing in the same league... ;-)

    Yekke Wannabe(2) - Incredibly, at least 15% of the members in our shul are leviim, and that's not counting their sons...
    they have a nice pitcher and basin in the front of the Shul so they don't miss Davening.
    That must be something to see!

  5. We're of Yisrael, and my son did have a pidyon haben. As a bechor peter rechem, he got to serve as a levi a couple of times in a minyan in which there was no levi present.

  6. Lots of interesting facts and interrogations here.
    So who gets the first alyah when there is no kohen present?

  7. I'm very proud to be a Bas Levi, and equally proud that Yekke Wannabe remembered and told over a vort that my son gave and my grandson's Pidyon Haben, nearly TWO YEARS ago.
    I wonder if my son knows the impact of his dvar Torah.....

  8. Ilanadavita- some Poskim say a Leyi should get the first Aliyoh, others hold anyone could get it (The reason for that is that the purpose of a Levi is to serve the Kohen if there is no Kohen then he is no better than a yisroel, others say to give it to a Talmid Chochom because the first aliyoh used to go to a Talmid Chochom not a kohen.

    G6- That's exactly what the Chofetz Chaim meant a person doesn't know what kind of impact his actions will have.

  9. Interesting, personal, informative and still teaming with humor? Well done, friend. Well done, indeed! :)

  10. Ariella - When he saw your comment, YZG joked, "That would never happen in our community. After all, in all the years we've been living here, I've never seen that happen..." :-) [/levi humor]

    Ilana-Davita - See Yekke Wannabe's comment above. Basically, it's up to the gabaim, and they usually choose to give the first aliyah to a Yisrael in such a case. In other words, even if there is a Levi present, he usually doesn't get called up at all.

    G6 - May you continue to have much nachat from your beautiful family B"AH!

    Yekke Wannabe - Shavua tov, and thanks for your educated comment!

    Galit - Thanks for your very sweet words, and have a wonderful week!

  11. I'm late to this post...also wife of Levi. Now mom to two Leviim.

    In our over-Leviim populated shul, my husband often doesn't go out for the washing of kohanim, as it's too crowded.

  12. Leora - Does your shul also have a lot of kohanim?


Feel free to leave a comment.