In the Torah portion of Toldos we read of the blessings that Yitzchak bestowed upon his son Yaakov, beginning with the words:1 “And may G‑d give you….” Comments the Midrash :2 “May He give you, and May He give you again.”

Man is inherently limited, so his gifts are inherently limited. Even if a person were to give as much as he can, his gift would be limited, and thus he may add to his gift by giving once again.

G‑d, however, is truly limitless. Surely, His original gift, emanating as it does from his infinite kindness, is also without limit. What possible need could there be for G‑d to give and then give again?

The transmission of knowledge from teacher to student can be achieved in one of two ways: a) the student may understand his master’s teachings, but not thoroughly enough to arrive at novel concepts; b) the disciple may completely master his teacher’s discourse, so that he is able to amplify on these teachings and come up with novel thoughts of his own.

Examples of the above are found in the Mishnah ,3 where R. Yochanan ben Zakkai speaks of the qualities of his disciples, comparing R. Eliezer ben Horkenus to “a cemented cistern which does not lose a drop” and R. Elazar ben Arach to a “fountain which flows with ever-increasing strength.”

It is readily apparent that the latter student is superior to the former. Thus Abba Shaul goes on to say in the name of R. Yochanan ben Zakkai: “If all the Sages of Israel, including even Eliezer ben Hurknus, were on one side of a scale, and Elazar ben Arach were on the other, he would outweigh them all.”

The reason for this superiority lies in the fact that even if “not a drop” of knowledge is lost, such a disciple will never have more than he received from his master.

However, a student who “flows with ever-increasing strength” will be able to use his master’s teachings as a springboard to gain ever-increasing amounts of knowledge.

Nevertheless, it goes without saying that even the student who “flows with ever-increasing strength” owes his gains to the teachings of his master. After all, it is upon those teachings that his subsequent knowledge is based. In fact, this ability in his student represents a teacher’s crowning achievement, for the ultimate objective of a teacher is to get his students to think for themselves.

Herein lies the meaning of “May He give you, and May He give you again”: G‑d’s blessings are so splendid that not only is the person blessed with unlimited bounty from Above, but he is inspired to make use of these blessings on his own, thereby gaining yet again.

In terms of man’s spiritual service, these two types of students correspond to the righteous individual and the penitent:

The righteous individual follows the path of Torah and mitzvos as they were transmitted from Above, while the penitent, having deviated from the path, transforms iniquity into merit.4 His method of service uses his power of repentance — the arousal of which is also granted to him by G‑d5 — to perform an additional measure of service, a service not readily available to the righteous.

Furthermore, just as the student who is likened to “a fountain that flows with ever-increasing strength” is superior to a student who is similar to “a cemented cistern which does not lose a drop,” so too is the service of the penitent superior to the service of the righteous. Our Sages express it thus:6 “On the level that penitents stand, the completely righteous are unable to stand.”

Their superiority is similar to that of the preeminent student: just as he is capable of endlessly increasing his knowledge, so too is the penitent’s manner of service on an infinite level, while the service of the righteous, however excellent, is merely finite. The penitent thus serves in a manner of “May He give you, and May He give you again.”

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. X, pp. 80-83.