SALT - Rosh Chodesh - Thursday, 30 Cheshvan 5779 - November 8, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
            We read in Parashat Toldot of the blessing with which Yitzchak blessed Yaakov (thinking he was Esav), which begins with the words, “Ve-yitein lekha ha-Elokim mi-tal ha-shamayim u-mi’shemanei ha-aretz” – “God shall grant you from the dew of the heavens and from the fat of the earth” (27:28).  Rashi, citing the Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 66:3), explains the term “ve-yitein lekha” (“shall grant you”) to mean “yitein ve-yachazor ve-yitein” – “he shall give and then give again.”  Numerous different approaches have been taken to explain the precise intent of this blessing, that God should “give and then give again.”
            Rav Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro of Piasetzna Hy”d, in Eish Kodesh, suggests a creative reading of Rashi’s comment based on an expression used by the Gemara in the beginning of Masekhet Kiddushin (2b), “ba’al aveida mechazeir al aviedato.”  This expression refers to somebody who lost a precious object – a “ba’al aveida” – who persistently searches – “mechazeir” – for the object.  Although the object is currently nowhere to be found, if the owner truly cares about it, he will spare no efforts in his quest to retrieve it.  The Gemara uses this expression as a metaphoric description of a man’s search for a wife; a man seeks a wife like somebody who has lost something immensely valuable and determinedly searches for it.
            Accordingly, the Rebbe of Piasetzna suggests that the phrase “yachazor ve-yitein” used by Rashi in the context of Yitzchak’s blessing to his son be understood as a reference to the search for a lost item – “mechazeir.”  Yitzchak first blessed his offspring that “yitein” – God should grant them joy and prosperity, but then added “yachazor ve-yitein” – that God should “search” for them when they are lost in order to grant them joy and prosperity.  There are times, the Rebbe explained, when a Jew is spiritually “lost,” having drifted far from religious observance and the service of God.  Yitzchak prophetically foresaw that his descendants would not always be worthy of God’s blessing, that they would at times drift far from their spiritual roots such that they are not immediately identifiable as his offspring who are included in the blessing he now granted to his son.  He thus began by praying, “yachazor ve-yitein” – that God should go out and search, as it were, for the “lost” members of His nation, without ever despairing.  His blessing was that just as somebody who lost a precious possession makes every effort to search for the object, leaving no stone unturned in this quest, similarly, God should never despair from a “lost” member of His beloved nation.  Yitzchak beseeched God to continue blessing his descendants even when they lose their direction, when they are led astray and find themselves distant from the service of God.  Even under such circumstances, Yitzchak begged, his offspring should continue to benefit from God’s special protection and care, and always enjoy His blessings.