Friday, November 28, 2008

Toldos 5631 Third Ma'amar

וְיִתֶּן-לְךָ הָאֱ-לֹהִים מִטַּל הַשָׁמַיִם וּמִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ וְרֹב דָּגָן וְתִירֹשׁ/And God will give you from the dew of the heavens and from the fatness of the earth and an abundance of grain and wine.” (Breishis 27:28) Thus begins Yitzchak Avinu’s blessing to Ya’akov. Is it not somewhat strange that the blessing begins with the word “and” as if this were a continuation? Rashi, addressing this question, cites the Midrash which says that the “and” implies a continuity of the blessing itself; in the words of the Midrash, “He will give and give again.” When we try to understand this answer, though, we find that it, too, needs an explanation? The Midrash implies that without the “and” at the beginning of the blessing, Yitzchak is giving a blessing meant to be fulfilled only once. This certainly cannot be. What then, is the Midrash really teaching us?

Yitzchak’s blessing actually raises another fundamental question. The blessing implies that to receive our needs from God is a good thing. We learn from the blessing that it is better to have the things we need than not to have them. Setting aside self indulgence for a moment, why should this be? Why is it not better to live a miserable existence and gain everlasting reward for suffering? The Sfas Emes answers that God wants us to serve Him. He therefore gives us the means to serve Him. He gives us the material means to serve Him as well as help with our spiritual service to Him. Suffering, in and of itself, is not an ideal. Rather, God wants us to use what He gives us to serve Him.

This then, is the meaning of the Midrash. When we use the things that God gives us in order to serve Him, we are essentially turning the material abundance into spiritual abundance. When we add abundance to the spiritual realms we cause a new cycle, a renewal, of material abundance in the physical world. Thus, “He will give and give again.”

The following Midrash states this idea clearly.[1] In the Torah we find that sometimes God addresses Moshe Rabbeinu, “וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה/God said to Moshe.” We also find that Moshe addresses God, “וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לה'/Moshe said to God.” The Midrash understands that speaking to someone is a form of influence. Certainly the very revelation of God to someone is a form of giving abundance to that person. After all, the greatest good, the greatest pleasure we can possibly experience is being close to God. The Midrash teaches us, that this idea applies in the opposite direction as well. When the Torah tells us that Moshe spoke to God, it is teaching us that Moshe can “influence” God, as it were. Of course, God is infinite and therefore never changes. He certainly is not influenced by anything. However, “God” here, is an inference to the spiritual realms which are at the root of the physical world. God structured the Creation so that material abundance begins with blessing in the spiritual realms – “וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה/God said to Moshe” – but then the strength of the spiritual realms is dependent upon our actions here in the physical world – “וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה לַה'/Moshe said to God.”

The Midrash presents this idea in the form of an analogy to a cave situated right near the sea. The water of the sea enters the cave and then flows back into the sea. The cave initially receives the water from the sea, but the cave also returns the water to the sea. The initial blessing and influence is spiritual and comes from God, as we find in Yitzchak’s blessing, “... מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם .../… from the dew of the heavens …” Only afterward does it descend to this material world in the form of material abundance.

Moshe Rabbeinu represents the entire nation of Israel. What is true for him is true for us as well. We have the ability, and the duty, to return to od, that which he gives us, by using the things He gives us to do His will, to perform mitzvos and acts of kindness. By doing this we point up the difference between the nation of Israel and the nations of the world. The nations of the world see the material abundance and do not relate it back God. They imbue power to the physical itself, the very basis of idol worship. We, on the other hand, revert everything physical back to its spiritual roots.

Strengthening the spiritual brings more blessing and renewal down to the physical world. This is the meaning of the pasuk in Koheles and Chazal’s explanation, “... אֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ/… There is nothing new under the sun.” (Koheles 1:9) Chazal understand this to be a metaphor for the physical world.[2] Under the sun, in the physical world, there is nothing new. However, above the sun, in the spiritual, there is novelty, renewal. Only through the spiritual, therefore, is it possible to bring renewal and novelty into the physical world.

May we merit Yitzchak’s blessing, “He will give and give again,” by using the material things God gives us to fulfill His will. Amen!

[1] Shmos R. 45:3

[2] Shabbos 30b

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just thought I would share A Sfas Emes Tidbit in Likutim on Toldos he says that it can not be that his Hair was red and he had a Ruddy complexion ,many people have that it has to be that his eyes and teeth where red too comparing to Dovid Hamelech who looked like him the Torah Specifies his eyes where Beautiful meaning Eisav where not hence his eyes where red.