Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

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Parshat Toldos 5783
Rabbi Jablinowitz

We read in this week’s parsha the blessings Yitzchak first gives to Yaakov, and then eventually gives to Eisav as well. Yitzchak begins his blessing to Yaakov and states (Chapter 27, Pasuk 28), ויתן לך האלוקים מטל המשים ומשמני הארץ. Yet, when Eisav beseeches Yitzchak to please find a bracha for him as well, he responds to him in a similar manner. His bracha begins with seemingly the very same words (Chapter 27, Pasuk 39), משמני הארץ יהיה מושבך ומטל השמים מעל. Both Yaakov and Eisav are promised the fat of the land and dew from the heaven. What is the great difference between their blessings?

The Sfas Emes answers that the essential aspect of Yaakov’s bracha was neither the fat of the land nor the dew from the heaven. Nor was it the continuation of the bracha, ורוב דגן ותירוש. The fundamental aspect of the bracha to Yaakov wasהאלוקים  ויתן לך. Yaakov was told that the bounty he will receive will come directly from Hashem. Eisav, on the other hand, was told משמני הארץ יהיה מושבך; you will dwell in the fat of the land.

The pasuk in Koheles says (Chapter 1, Pasuk 9), אין כל חדש תחת השמש; there is nothing new under the sun. Chazal teach in the Medrash Rabbah on Koheles (1,4), אבל למעלה מן השמש יש, above the sun there is something new. Eisav was told he will dwell in the fat of the land. He was given a bracha of a physical nature. Physical matter decays and has no spiritual content. The nature of this bracha to Eisav is expressed in the next pasuk as well. ועל חרבך תחיה, you will live by the sword. Eisav’s bracha included bounty, but was bereft of any connection to Hashem.

Yaakov, however, was told ויתן לך האלוקים. You will receive your bracha directly from Hashem. His bracha came from above the heavens, from Gd Himself. Hence, his bracha was not one of physical matter and decay, but rather a bracha of connection to the Divine; an eternal bracha.

Rashi comments on the words ויתן לך, יתן ויחזור ויתן. Rashi comments on the fact that the beginning of the bracha begins with the letter “Vav” which typically is a connector to that which came previously. Yet there doesn’t seem to be anything to connect it with. Therefore, the letter “Vav” which means “and”, teaches that the giving of the bracha is an ongoing process; יתן ויחזור ויתן.

The Sfas Emes teaches that it is precisely the connection of the bracha to Hashem that makes it continuous. As we explained above, above the heavens, in the realm of Hashem, there is newness and freshness. There is התחדשות. As we say in the davening in Birchas Kriyas Shema in the morning, המחדש בטובו בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית. Hashem brings a newness everyday to creation. By definition, everything connected to Hashem is constantly being renewed and regenerated. The same is true of the bracha we receive from Hashem, and this is what Rashi means when he says, יתן ויחזור ויתן.

This is also the idea behind Rosh Chodesh. Our calendar is a lunar one, since the moon regenerates itself every month. And the word for month, חודש, comes from the word חדש, which means new. Each new month represents an opportunity to regenerate ourselves and start over again. The nature of the life of a Jew is to constantly strive for change and improvement. We are not like physical matter which remains the same and eventually just decays. This is the way of the sun and the solar year. The word for year is שנה, which means to repeat. In the solar calendar there are no actual months, the months are artificial. And in the lunar calendar there are no years; they are also artificial. The essential element is the month, the Chodesh. And this is why it was precisely Yaakov who received the bracha of ויתן לך; to constantly remain connected to Hashem and to constantly grow and improve in our devotion and Avodas Hashem. And the eventually the bracha follows in kind; continually bringing with it a newness and a freshness.

Good Shabbos  


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