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The Power of Isaac's Blessings

The Power of Isaac's Blessings

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The haftarah for parshat Toldot speaks of how Isaac blessed Jacob, "May G‑d (haElokim) give you from the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land, and abundance of grain and wine."1

Most of the blessings given to Abraham and Isaac are given with the name Havaya (Y-H-V-H). The majority of blessings, including the priestly blessing, use the name Havaya as well. So when a different name is used in our case, we have to ask why?

Every name of G‑d represents a different expression of His energy in the world.Every name of G‑d represents a different expression of His energy in the world For example, the name Havaya represents chesed, kindness. It is an unbridled flow of His creative energy that makes existence possible. However, since it’s unbridled, the revelation can be too powerful. In order to make existence actually work, the name Elokim, which represents gevurah, strength, discernment and discipline, is necessary. It acts as a converter, translating the Havaya energy so that the world as we know it can exist. It doesn't restrict it. It makes it accessible. This is why in the story of creation the name Elokim is used. "In the beginning Elokim created the heavens and the earth."2 This is because the name Elokim facilitates sustained existence.

At the same time, the energy that we receive from gevurah is greater than what we receive from chesed. This is because chesed is cool and calm, and therefore limited. Gevurah, however, is hot and passionate, and therefore unlimited.3

Now it begins to make sense why the great blessings in our Torah portion were given only by Isaac, and not by Abraham and Jacob. Isaac's attribute was gevurah. We also find that right after Abraham passed away, G‑d blessed Isaac with the name Elokim, as it says, "And it was after Abraham died, and Elokim blessed Isaac his son.”4 This is the first time we have the name Elokim connected to a blessing, something we find only in connection to Isaac. Before Abraham died, the blessings were according to his attribute and his mode of service, chesed, through the name Havaya. Once Abraham died, the blessings started to come in accordance with Isaac's attribute and his mode of service, gevurah.

The blessings that Isaac gave Jacob, "May haElokim give you from the dew of the heavens. . ." are greater than the blessing that G‑d gave Isaac, "And Elokim blessed Isaac his son." How do we know this?

Rashi5 tells us that Abraham was afraid to bless Isaac because he saw that Esau descended from him. So Abraham said, "Let the Master of blessings come and bless who is good in His eyes," And G‑d came and blessed Isaac. From this story it is understood that if Abraham would have blessed Isaac, his blessing would automatically transfer to his children, including Esau. It therefore stands to reason that the blessing that G‑d gave Isaac transferred to his children, so that both Jacob and Esau already had this blessing automatically.

We read in parshat Toldot the lengths to which Jacob went to secure Isaac's blessings. If he already had G‑d's blessing, why did Jacob want Isaac's blessings so badly? The answer is that Isaac's blessings were much more than the ones he already had.

We also read in the parshah that Isaac wanted to give his blessings to Esau. Why? Didn't he know that Esau was trouble? Of course he did. But he saw great potential in Esau, because the source of Esau was from a very high spiritual realm, and he felt that if only he would get the blessings, perhaps they would bring out his potential for greatness.6

We are taught that although Esau had great potential, the blessings would have been wasted on him. Either they would have gone to waste, being swallowed by his boorish nature, or they would have been too much for him to handle, destroying him.7

Ultimately, it was Jacob who got the blessings, and that is good, because it is only through Jacob that Esau could be refined, attaining his true potential.8

We are Jacob's descendants. We have been given the ability to have an amazing effect on the world around us, bringing out the potential latent in the people around us, the descendants of Esau. In this way, they also receive the blessings.

What gives us the ability to have such a profound effect on the world? It is because we have Isaac's powerful blessings from the name Elokim It is because we have Isaac's powerful blessings from the name Elokim. This is the meaning of the verse that states that "through [Abraham] the nations of the world will be blessed." We, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will finish the mission that they started, changing the world for good and bringing Moshiach.

May we all enjoy the simple meaning of Isaac's blessings: "May G‑d give you from the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land, and abundance of grain and wine," together with every other blessing, including nachas, good health and abundance— especially the greatest blessing, the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.9

In honor of my brothers, the Shluchim of the Rebbe, who are attending the International Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchim) this week. May you see amazing success in your work, nachas from your children, and good health.

Footnotes
3.
Siddur Im Divrei Elokim Chaim, Shaar Hatkiyot pp. 247a-b.
5.
Rashi to Genesis 25:11.
6.
Maamar Re'ey Rayach Beni, Torah Ohr, 20b and on. See also the Tzemach Tzedek's commentary on the maamar, Ohr Hatorah, Toldot, p. 144a and on.
7.
Ibid.
8.
Ibid
9.
Maamar Veyiten Lecha HaElokim, Torat Menachem Sefer Hamaamarim Meluket volume 1 pp. 339-342.
Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz—father of seven, husband of Dina, and spiritual leader at Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, Calif.—has been rendered immobile by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Unable to speak or type, he uses his eyes to write heartfelt thoughts on the weekly Torah portion.

Please support the Hurwitz Family Fund.
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