Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Double Blessing

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

“For in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your offspring, as the stars of the heaven and as the sand on the seashore. And your offspring will take possession of the gates of their enemies, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through you.” [Bereishit 22:17-18].

The Holy One, Blessed be He, gave us a double promise – “Bareich Avarechecha – In blessing I will bless you.” One blessing is visible and quantitative, “Like the sand on the seashore.” The other one is qualitative and internal, “Like the stars of the heaven.”

The openly revealed blessing includes the eternity of Yisrael. The nation of Yisrael has always been surrounded by others, who hate them and want to swallow Yisrael, but in spite of everything our nation is successful and remains. “And your offspring will possess the gates of its enemies.” However, the nation of Yisrael was not only meant to be victorious over its enemies and to survive. This revealed blessing is much more – it is an introduction leading to a greater future, when all the other nations will recognize that “the nation of Yisrael is not another simple appearance among the other nations but rather the revelation of the word of G-d in humanity.”

Avraham was told in the first revelation to him, “All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” [Bereishit 28:14]. In that revelation, a four-part plan was spread out in front of Avraham: (1) “Go for your own sake” [12:1] – in order to build up his own personality; (2) “... to the land which I will show you” [Ibid] – to build up nationality, a nation, and the land; (3) “And I will make you into a great nation” [Ibid]. What is a great nation? “Who is such a great nation which has G-d so close to it, like our G-d? And what great nation has laws and decrees ... like this entire Torah which I place before you today?” [Devarim 4:7]. This describes the spiritual aspect of the nation which will descend from him. It will be close to G-d and it will have the Torah. Finally, (4) “And all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” This is the universalist goal of the nation of Yisrael. As Rashi explains, we want every father to say to his son: You should be like Avraham.

This momentous prediction was given to Avraham at the end of the great test of the Binding of Yitzchak, at the site of the Temple. This is because the Temple represents the universal aspect of our nation, as King Shlomo said when it was dedicated: “So that all the nations of the world will know that He is G-d, there is no other” [Melachim I 8:60].

“Hanetzach V’Hahod” – The Eternity and the Glory – “Eternity is Jerusalem, and Glory is the Temple.” Netach, which stands for both eternity and for victory, is relevant to Jerusalem, the capital of Yisrael. We must fight for the Kingdom of Yisrael, and we have been promised that we will be victorious. However, with respect to the Temple, whose essence is the spiritual influence on the other nations, the victory will not be achieved by strength, “for we were not commanded to wage war with swords and to cry out in the name of G-d to nations which do not know Him.” The influence will be the result of the action of Hod – when the other nations become aware of the glory that is seen within Judaism. They will see “the glory of knowledge that is so exalted... Without any need for controversy, they will all run to seek the G-d of Yisrael... in response to an internal demand that stems from their recognition that this is the value of the act of glory, like the glory of royalty that can be seen on a king who is absolutely just...” [Olat Re’iyah, volume 1, page 233].

“In those days, ten men from all the languages of the nations will take hold of the hem of the cloak of a Jewish man, saying, let us go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you” [Zecharia 8:23].

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