Friday, November 21, 2014

Toldos 5639 First Ma'amar

In this week’s parsha Yitzchak Avinu blesses both his children.  At least part of those blessings is very similar.  To Ya’akov he says, “ויתן לך הא-להים מטל השמים ומשמני הארץ .../And may God give you the dew of the heavens and the fatness of the land.” (Breishis 27:28)  To Eisav he says, “... משמני הארץ יהיה מושבך ומטל השמים מעל/… you will live off the fatness of the land and from the dew of the heavens above.” (Breishis 27:39)  It seems that Yitzchak gave material blessing to both Ya’akov and Eisav.  Is there any difference between these blessings?

The answer lies in a deeper understanding of Yitchak’s blessing to Ya’akov.  Yitchak’s blessing to Ya’akov begins with the word, ויתן/and may He give.  The word is enigmatic in that it starts with a vav/and, implying that this is a continuation and not the beginning of the blessing.  Why does the blessing begin with, “and”?  Furthermore, the structure of the beginning of the blessing is uncommon.  It translates literally as, “And He will give you God …”

Chazal[1] note these difficulties.  They explain that the extra vav implies that God will give and then give again.  He will continue to give.  The uncommon wording at the beginning of the blessing teaches us that God would give Ya’akov of His Godliness.

Putting the two together, the Sfas Emes teaches us that Yitzchak’s main blessing to Ya’akov was not material plenty.  Rather, the main blessing was that God would give him the plenty.  God imbues us with Godliness through the material blessing that he bestows upon us.  We connect with God by receiving His bounty.  Yitzchak says that God will give and give again implying that there will always be the opportunity to connect to God by acknowledging that He is the root of the plenty that we have.

For Eisav, on the other hand, Yitzchak says that he will have what he needs, however he gets it[2].  Of course everything always comes from God.  However, for Eisav, the main thing is the material plenty whereas for Ya’akov the main thing is that it is a gift from God, a way to connect with God.

Since the physical plenty that Ya’akov receives is an indication of a connection to God, Yitzchak continues, “... הוה גביר לאחיך .../… you will be a master over your brothers …”  Since Ya’akov is connected to the root of the blessing, the plenty that reaches the entire world comes through him.  In fact, the word, הוה/you will be, connotes a command.  Yitzchak is telling Ya’akov that he must accept upon himself to draw the plenty into the world for the benefit of the nations when the nations are subservient to him.

Yitzchak’s blessing is meant of course for the nation of Israel, Ya’akov’s progeny.  We need to realize that the blessing of material plenty that we have is not primarily the plenty itself but rather that God gave it to us so that we can connect with Him and attain Godliness.  May we merit it.  Amen!

[1] Breishis R. 66:3
[2] See also Ramban on 27:28 from והנכון בעיני.  Ramban also notes that Yitzchak says ויתן only to Ya’akov.  See his conclusions based on this.


Anonymous said...

"...the extra vav implies that God will give and then give again"

so too, the extra* word mei'al in
27:39-- give (from the heavens/
ha'shamayim), and then give again (from above/mei'al);

but unlike 27:28, Ha'Elokim, by Name, hides in 39, & hides at the pasuk's end (in the final word); from this we see that Dev. 28:13 (head, not tail), told to "the nation of Israel, Ya'akov's progeny", refers us back to these very blessings from Yitzchak;

or say that mei'al of 27:39 =
"through him" of the post = l'malah of Dev. 28:13 {heaven's
dew to Israel to Edom/world}

*where be the heavens, if not

Anonymous said...

Eisav would not necessarily have received the particular blessing given to his brother, nor its current interpretation, even HAD HE COME FIRST to his father:

Eisav wore not his special clothes (27:15), the clothes that
Yitzchak smells & of which he then
speaks (27:27); without that initial utterance, there might be no pashut level "vav/and" to begin with [Rashi records the obvious meaning of "and", phrase one, 27:28], & so no vav/and for
the drush! Eisav would likely have heard "may He give...", give once-and-for-all, leaving manifest nature thereafter to run its obdurate course...

& as to giving ha'Elokim/Godliness, Eisav was so
preoccupied with the imminent blessing, so excited about plenitude & power, that of all times not to err in meal preparation for his father, he erred, leaving Yitzchak's tavlin
Torah, mesiras nefesh, for just this once, out of the preparatory
mix: Eisav omitted, 27:31, the ingredient that his father loved,
27:4 (& could sense in the food before him);

the tavlin of self-sacrifice, mesiras nefesh (what Rivkah demonstrated when she did prepare
food as Yitzchak loved, 27:14, saying, "on me is your curse",
27:13); what Yitzchak demonstrated at 22:9, lifnei "ha'Elokim", when he grasped Eloka mi'b'saro, that is to say, b'nafsho (27:4, 25),
b'mesiras nefesh (which spice he loved);

Eisav's test was to prepare/serve
his father food lishma (while opposite him shone the impending
blessing), the way he'd prepared many times before in chasing around for game, simply for kibud
av; if lishma, selflessly, Yitzchak would bless Eisav b'nafsho, that ha'Elokim would give Himself to the recipient of dew & fat & grain & wine; if she'lo lishma, Yitzchak would bless the hairy hunter pro forma
only, that He would Namelessly [the point!] supply, b'dei eved,
the taker of dew, fat, grain, wine (or fat, dew): "may He give
you (once-&-for-all) stuff x stuff y stuff z...have at it"

Anonymous said...

"when the nations are subservient to" "the nation of Israel"

when the peoples will acknowledge You, Tehillim 67:6,

"he must accept upon himself to draw the plenty into the world for the benefit of the nations"

and Israel has kavanah that earth will yield its produce, 67:7*,

"God will give"

then God our God, 67:7 [our's, for "He will give you God"] will
bless us, 67:7,

"and then give again"

and then bless us again 67:8 [& the ends of earth revere Him, that
the cycle may repeat...];

*where this psalm is put to the menorah, 67:7 corresponds to yom
sheini, with its waters above
(Yaakov's dew, in first position),
& waters below (Eisav's dew, in second)

Anonymous said...

while Yitzchak blesses Yaakov with repeated connection to God
thru dagan v'tirosh*, 27:28, thru foods for the mizbei'ach, he 'blesses' Eisav with life by the sword, 27:40**, with life by an item expressly forbidden any connection to an altar, Shemos 20:22;

backing up one pasuk from the last
(to 20:21), & sidling to Pirkei Avos 3:7, final pasuk-- Yaakov was left alone [va'yivaser l'vado] in a tent to recall, without his brother for chavrusa,
The Name (without Avos 3:7 wherein two sit together,
based on Malachi 3:16); so Yitzchak sent his hairy huntsman
away with a sword, yet sent him
away*** with mercy (as per Malachi 3:17), as if Eisav had really sometimes tented with his brother for day & night talks of Elokim

*at the conclusion of Yaakov's year of aveilus for his father Yitzchak, Yisrael blessed in a wishful surge, blessed she'b'lev,
his missing son, with dew & fatness, with rov dagan; then was Yosef released from prison & connected to God thru His interpretation of the dream of imminent abundance in Egypt [connected first by chubby cows, & then again by pudgy corn]

**Eisav missed his cue at the word 'mah?', in 27:37; had he answered his father, not with 27:38, but with mah tov chelkeinu,
u'mah na'im goraleinu, u'mah yafa yerushasheinu, he'd have joined himself mightily to the coming Israelite cause

***sent away? or did Eisav remove himself to a mountain other than Avraham's, 22:14, to a mountain in Se'ir, 36:8? remove himself to a field other than Yitzchak's, 24:63, to sdei Edom, 32:4? deny himself even passing contact with Yaakov's House (in its portable form), 28:22, at Bamidbar 20:18?

{where've you gone, R. Moshe? the Sfas Emes will soon start to wonder from Olam Haba, at this lessening of his lessons...}