Friday, November 05, 2010

Toldos 5632 Third Ma'amar

In this week's parsha we find the story of Yitzchak's blessings to his children Ya'akov and Eisav.  Yitzchak wanted to give Eisav the blessing of the first born son, but through an intrigue ended up blessing Ya'akov instead.  Why did God allow events to unfold in such a way that Ya'akov received the blessing of the first born through a subterfuge?  Why did God not plant in Yitzchak's thoughts the idea the Ya'akov should receive the blessing?  After all, these blessings define the relationship between Ya'akov's progeny, the nation of Israel and Eisav for all time.  Why did Ya'akov receive this blessing in such an unlikely manner?
A Midrash[1] in this week's parsha sheds light on this question.  The Midrash states that there are three organs which are not in our control and three which are under our control.  The eyes, ears and nose are not under our control.  We see things that we may not want to see, we hear what we may not want to hear and we smell that that we may not care to smell.  The mouth, hands and feet, however, are under our control.  We choose what we say, what we do and where we go.
When a person merits it, though, God takes over even those organs which are ordinarily under his control.  He is thus protected from using his mouth, hands and feet in a way that is against God's will.  The Midrash gives as an example Yitzchak's blessing Ya'akov instead of Eisav whom he wanted to bless.  When Yitzchak realized that God took the decision as to who will receive the blessing away from him, he understood that God was protecting him from error and so responds with, "... גם ברוך יהיה/… may he also be blessed," (Breishis 27:33) referring to Ya'akov. 
Why did Yitzchak merit God's direct intervention to prevent him from making a tragic mistake?  The Sfas Emes explains that when a person subordinates his entire being to God's will, he is showing that he wants to give up control to God.  Someone who wants to be under God's dominion merits it because, "רצון יראיו יעשה .../… He does the will of those who fear Him." (Tehillim 145:19)  Yitzchak did exactly this at the Akeida.
From Yitzchak we learn that to the extent we accept upon ourselves the yoke of heaven each day, every morning to subordinate our desires totally to God's, we merit not leaving God's dominion at all. Practically, this means that by wanting to do only God's will we are protected from unwittingly doing that which is against God's will just as Yitzchak was protected from blessing the wrong son.
This concept also provides the answer to our original question.  God wanted Yitzchak's blessing to Ya'akov to be completely without personal motives.  This is difficult if not impossible for a father blessing his son.  Therefore, God made it happen in such a way that Yitzchak did not want to bless Ya'akov.  The blessing that Yitzchak gave to Ya'akov was as if it came straight from God without any interference from Yitzchak's personal motives.  This was only possible, though, because Yitzchak completely subordinated his own desires to God's.  Therefore, Yitzchak's actions were under God's direct control.  Yitzchak thought he was blessing Eisav.  God saw to it that his blessing fell upon Ya'akov.  In fact, according to the Zohar[2], Ya'akov's blessing came from God alone.

[1] Breishis R. 67:3
[2] See Zohar 1:143b

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