Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Chosen From Among the Nations, Because We Live Among the Nations -- Part I

In birkas ha'torah, we thank HaShem for choosing us from among all the nations to give us His Torah.  What difference does is make who else was in the running?  We were chosen!  Thus begins R' Efraim Twerski in his shiur regarding the bracha of "asher bachar banu".  Whether or not you feel the question is compelling; the answer is astounding!

To answer we need to go back to that first break from the nations of the world that the world even noticed: when Yitzchak Avinu gave the brachos to Yaakov Avinu instead of to Esav HaRasha.  ( my bias showing?  Good!  I am fine with being charged with preferring good to evil even when it's not -- well... especially when it's not, actually -- politically correct.)  We need a few more questions to stir up enthusiasm before proceeding to the answer.

Why, for instance, did Yitzchak want to give the brachos to Eisav anyway?  Hint: it was not because he did not recognize Eisav's nature; Yitzchak knew his nature very well.  For example, the S'porno explaines, that Yitzchak required Eisav to perform an act of kibud av in order to give the bracha leverage; no such request was made of Yaakov at the end of the parasha when it came time to give Yaakov a bracha.

Second, Yaakov expresses his concern to his mother that things that the efforts to acquire this bracha could turn into a curse. Yaakov's statement begins (B'reishis 27:12): Maybe my father will touch me.  In Lashon HaKodesh there are two words for maybe: "pen", often translated as "lest"; "u'lai", maybe/I hope.  Yaakov used the word "u'lai", not "pen".  Also, Yaakov's concern that the blessing turn to a curse are not joined to the beginning of the verse with a conjunction, but is separated by an esnachta (essentially a semicolon).  So Yaakov's statement was really: I hope that Abba will touch me and reveal the deception, because if he doesn't, I am worried that bracha will be a curse!  His mother answered (as explained by Onkelos): Don't worry; I know prophetically that you will be ok.  What was Yaakov worried about?

As long as we're on the topic, please note that Yitzchak did, in fact, feel Yaakov's arms; just as Yaakov hoped.  Yitchak's reaction?  Not quite what Yaakov had hoped, but, "ha'kol kol yaakov, v'ha'yadayim y'dei eisav"/the voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Eisav.  Yitzchak's vision was weak, not his hearing.  Yaakov was only able to pull this off because he and Eisav sounded exactly the same.  Yitzchak was only tipped off by the fact that the voice he was hearing was from a well mannered person, not the gruff nature he expected of Eisav.  So... if Yitzchak had such strong evidence that something was amiss, why didn't he at least put a halt to this meeting until he could get clarification?

What was the point of this bracha?  For whom (ie, with what characteristics) was it intended?  Why was Yaakov so afraid of that bracha that only his mother's prophetic promise could assuage his concerns?

Great questions, don't you think?  I'll get back to you, bli neder and b'ezras HaShem.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…