To Give and Give Again

In this parashah we are faced with perplexing questions that many meforshim have sought to explain:

Why did Hashem arrange it so that Yitzchak should intend to give the brachos to Esav, and only by dressing in the clothes of Esav and pretending to be his older brother did Yaakov receive the brachos?

When Yitzchak Avinu blessed Yaakov he commenced V’yiten lecha HaElokim, — “And may Hashem give you…” Rashi seeks to clarify the connecting vav of “And,” which seems out of place at the beginning of the blessing, by quoting a Midrash: v’yiten v’yachzor v’yiten, “May He give and give again.” What is this duplicated and apparently separate “giving”?

Before answering these questions, a bit of background:

When the Torah describes the children and grandchildren of Yaakov who descended to Egypt, they are referred to as sixty-nine nefesh — a single entity, particles of a single holy soul. On the other hand, the family members of Esav are referred to in the plural as nefashos, separate and unconnected individuals.

Now to answer our questions.

If Yitzchak Avinu had originally sought to bless Yaakov Avinu, he would have blessed his descendants only as a single entity (“nefesh”). Then the remarkable fact that the Ribbono shel Olam is with us in our sorrow would have applied only in cases of the troubles facing us collectively. However, even though all our souls are indeed intertwined, which helps explain the concept of kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh, we still often face personal struggles and crises.

Therefore the Ribbono shel Olam arranged that Yitzchok Avinu should intend to bless Esav, and thus, while unwittingly blessing Yaakov, he blessed his descendants as individuals (“nefashos”).

So while every Yid is an integral part of the single entity known as Am Yisrael, yet even when his pain is personal and private Hakadosh Baruch Hu, the Creator of the universe and everything within it, feels his anguish and is in distress together with him.

This is the promise of imo anochi b’tzarah, “I am with him in [time of] trouble” (Tehillim 91, composed by Moshe Rabbeinu and included by Dovid Hamelech). While one might assume that this refers to Am Yisrael as an entity, and that only when there is a collective sorrow, a national crisis, is the Ribbono shel Olam “with” His nation in their grief, Chazal (Chagigah 15b) teach us otherwise: that the Shechinah states that it is in pain when even an individual is in distress.

This is also the brachah of v’yitein v’yachzor v’yiten, Hashem gives, again and again, to every single Yid according to his needs.

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When a Yid faces a crisis of any sort, and the Ribbono shel Olam helps and he emerges from the crisis or recovers from his illness, et al., his joy is often incomplete. For one thing, he often remains concerned about other, unrelated problems and issues. In addition, the sensitive and refined soul of a Yid cannot truly rejoice in his own salvation as long as other Yidden are suffering their own troubles and grief.

There is a solution — albeit a daunting one — to this dilemma.

Whenever we merit a yeshuah, regardless of its scope and magnitude, we are required to express hoda’ah, gratitude. A primary part of this hoda’ah is accepting upon oneself to ascend a level in avodas Hashem. This evokes and brings forth salvation.

However, if our gratitude is concretized by seeking to improve in one specific area, then the salvation it evokes is also limited; whereas if we totally rededicate ourselves to avodas Hashem, in every area, when we daven and when we eat, when we learn and when we work, then we can bring forth a total yeshuah — in every area.

The blessings are ready for us; all we have to do is perfect ourselves to the best of our capabilities, so we can be a conduit for these infinite brachos.

Adapted from the sefer Eish Kodesh, written by the Pieczesna Rebbe, Hy”d, during the Holocaust in the horror that was known as the Warsaw Ghetto.