Yitzchak (Isaac) and Rivka had two sons, Esav and Ya'akov (Jacob). "The
grew up and Esav became one who knows hunting, a man of the field; but
Ya'akov was a wholesome man, abiding in tents." (Beraishis/Genesis 25:27)
The two sons had completely different natures. Esav led a life of
immorality; when he grew older and settled down, he married wives who
intentionally embittered the lives of his parents. Yitzchak and Rivka had
difference of opinion as to which of their sons Yitzchak should bless with
material abundance. Yitzchak wanted to bless Esav, but Rivka wanted him to
bless Ya'akov. Why did Yitzchak want to give the blessing to Esav? Was he
totally unaware of Esav's nature?
Rabbi Eliezer Dessler (1) explains that blessings can never sway the
fundamental principle that all human beings in all circumstances have the
freedom to choose. When G-d judges us, He looks at the choices we made in
our own individual circumstances. Blessings, at best, can improve our
circumstances. G-d can send us health, wealth, children, or any other form
of blessing; we must choose how to capitalize on the opportunities these
circumstances give us.
Yitzchak knew that Ya'akov was a truly righteous person. He would choose
serve G-d regardless of his circumstances. From Yitzchak's perspective,
only did Ya'akov have no need for his blessing, he would be better off
without it. If he could serve G-d under the most difficult circumstances
would ultimately accomplish more in life. Esav, on the other hand, needed a
blessing. He had a difficult time overcoming his evil inclination to serve
G-d. Yitzchak hoped that under the right circumstances he would improve.
Rivka appreciated two subtleties in this situation. First, improving
circumstances would not improve him. He had succumbed to his evil
inclination to such a degree that the more blessings he would be given, the
more he would misuse them to fulfill his own selfish desires. Further,
Ya'akov needed a blessing. Even though he was truly righteous, his
descendants throughout time, who may not be as righteous as he, would also
be impacted by the blessing. They would certainly need any available Divine
assistance to enable their proper service of G-d.
We often pray for blessings in life, sometimes reflexively. In reality,
these blessings are designed to facilitate our service of G-d. If it is
truly in our best interest, then G-d will certainly respond to our prayers
Have a Good Shabbos!
(1) in Michtav Me'Eliyahu, his collected writings and discourses; 1891-
of London and B'nai Brak, one of the outstanding personalities and thinkers
of the Mussar movement