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The Double Blessing - תולדות

Thursday, 19 November, 2020 - 1:00 pm

The Double Blessing

Isaac assumed that the person standing before him was Esau, his eldest son, who he intended to bless before his passing. Unbeknownst to him it was actually Jacob, his younger son, disguised as Esau. Isaac began the blessing with an unusual choice of words, which offer insight into the nature of this particular blessing which was intended for Esau. 


The opening phrase of the blessing is: ‘May Elokim {G-d} grant you”. Elokim is the name of G-d which expresses concealment, judgment, and withholding. It is an unusual name to be used in association with a blessing. In fact, most blessings in the Torah are associated with the name Hashem, which represents benevolence and revelation. 


The first word of the blessing is “and”, which implies that the statement is a continuation of a previous statement, when in fact, the word “and” is the beginning of the blessing. Rashi explains that the “and” represents a double giving: “May He {G-d} give and repeatedly give ”. This explanation, however, prompts another question: why the need for an additional blessing? What is lacking in the first blessing that requires a second blessing? 


The conventional meaning of a blessing is the bestowal of a gift which does not require effort on the part of the recipient. Yet, Isaac’s blessings differed considerably. Unlike Abraham, who embodied loving kindness and giving, Isaac embodied the attributes of discipline and restraint. Isaac's idea of blessing was empowering the recipient to achieve through his or her own effort. Isaac did not suffice with the blessing from above, for he wanted his son to acquire the blessing through his own effort. This can be compared to a student who not only receives information, knowledge  and enlightenment from his teacher, but rather he also learns how to innovate and create new ideas. Isaac blessed his son that he should receive blessing from G-d, {“may He give”}, additionally, his son should tread his own path and create his own blessing {“and return and give”}.


Generally speaking there are two ways of serving G-d: The first is the path of the righteous who follow G-d's directives as spelled out in the Torah. They seek to receive direction and inspiration from above.  Yet, often we are confronted with challenges and confusion, finding ourselves in a state of spiritual darkness, feeling disconnected from the gift of the Torah. At those times we are unable to appreciate the inspiration from above.  When that happens we have no choice but to engage in the second, more profound, form of Divine service: the service of Teshuvah, return to G-d, motivated by the inspiration generated from within the person himself. The service of Teshuvah is a true human innovation for it has the power to elevate negativity by transforming unholy, destructive experiences into fuel for good, motivating a deep longing and yearning for G-d. 


Isaac knew that his son Esau was out of touch with his spiritual source and the Divine potential gifted to him from above. He therefore began the blessing with the name Elokim, which represents G-d’s ability to conceal his awesome presence. Isaac was telling his son that the greatest blessing is the ability to transform the state of
concealment {which can occur as a result of the name Elokim} through one’s own effort. The greatest blessing is not the one given from above {“may he give”}, but rather the one created by man {“and repeatedly give”}. 


Rebekah, however, understood that Jacob was the one who must receive the blessing intended for Esau. For only the righteous Jacob can harness the profound energy and passion generated by returning to G-d from a place of darkness. In the final analysis, Jacob was the one who could cultivate both qualities, the quality of the righteous as well as the quality of the returnee, thus granting each and every one of his descendants the ability to experience both forms of the divine blessing. 

Based on Lekutei Sichos Toldos, vol. 10 sicha 2.  


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