Boundless Berachot by Eitan Leff


In Parashat Toledot, we read that Yitzchak Avinu, having lost his vision, instructs Eisav to bring him food and tells Eisav that he will give him the Berachah intended for his eldest son (BeReishit 27:1-4). However, Rivkah Imeinu overhears this conversation and tells Ya’akov that he should receive the Berachah. Therefore, she advises Ya’akov to gather two young goats from the field for Yitzchak (27:5-10). After Ya’akov raises the concern that Yitzchak will realize he is not Eisav due to his smooth skin, Rivkah dresses Ya’akov so that he will feel like Eisav (27:11-16). Because of this trickery, Ya’akov receives the Berachah  (27:27).

Why were Ya’akov and Eisav fighting over a Berachah if they both were going to be blessed? Ramban (27:4 s.v. BaAvur Tevarech’cha Nafshi) suggests that Ya’akov and Eisav were fighting for a specific Berachah – they both wanted to be blessed with the inheritance of the land of Israel and the continuation of the covenant with Hashem. Abarbanel (27:1-28:9) agrees with Ramban’s analysis but adds that the Berachah also included the mission of spreading the belief of one God.

In Unlocking the Torah Text: Bereishit, Rav Shmuel Goldin provides another answer to this question. Yitzchak’s Berachah to Ya’akov stated: “Re’eih Rei’ach Beni KeRei’ach Sadeh Asher Beircho Hashem. VeYitten Lecha HaElokim MiTal HaShamayim UMiShemanei HaAretz VeRov Dagan VeTirosh. Ya’avducha Amim VeYishtachavu Lecha LeUmim Heveih Gevir LeAchecha VeYishtachavu Lecha Benei Imecha Orerecha Arur UMevarchecha Baruch,” “Behold, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field, which Hashem has blessed! And may Hashem give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the earth and an abundance of grain and wine. Nations shall serve you and kingdoms shall bow down to you; you shall be a master over your brothers, and your mother’s sons shall bow down to you. Those who curse you shall be cursed, and those who bless you shall be blessed” (27:27-29).

Why did Ya’akov, a spiritual person, receive a material Berachah? Ya’akov received another Berachah from Yitzchak before he went to Padan Aram. This time, Yitzchak knew for certain that he was blessing Ya’akov and gave Ya’akov the Berachah that Hashem should grant him and his children the blessing of Avraham to inherit Eretz Yisrael (28:4). This Berachah constitutes Ya’akov’s spiritual legacy. We can learn from the two different Berachot that Yitzchak was not planning to favor one of his sons more than the other; he merely blessed his children towards their respective strengths. Ya’akov was a spiritual person and Eisav was a physical person. When Yitzchak blesses Ya’akov before going to Padan Aram, he blesses him with a spiritual blessing. When Yitzchak thought he was blessing Eisav, he bestowed a material blessing. Just as Yitzchak realized each individual’s strength, so too, we must look for the positive attributes in each person and appreciate people for who they are.

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