Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing. -Salvador Dali
Isaac starts to feel his age. He has lost his eyesight. He is uncertain as to when he will die. He wishes to bless his firstborn, Esau. He orders Esau to prepare a festive meal for him. As Esau hunts for game, Isaac’s wife Rebecca directs the younger twin, Jacob, to claim the blessing. Jacob disguises himself as his hairier brother, Esau, serves his father a sumptuous meal, and gets the coveted blessing from mislead blind Isaac. Shortly thereafter, Esau and his father discover the deception and thereafter Esau burns with a murderous hatred for his brother that would send Jacob into exile and influence the entire history of the Jewish people.
Rabbeinu Bechaye on Genesis 27:4 wonders why it is that Isaac requests a festive meal in the first place? What is it about a sumptuous meal of delights that seems to be a prerequisite for giving and receiving a blessing?
He answers that Isaac wanted to bless Esau with material prosperity, and therefore required some sample of material prosperity present to enact the blessing. Hence the need for the festive meal for this particular blessing. Rabbeinu Bechaye brings other examples as supportive evidence:
During Temple times:
- On Sukot we brought water libations to ask for the blessing of rain.
- On Passover we brought the first grains to ask for the blessing of produce.
- On Shavuot we brought the two loaves to ask for the blessing of fruit.
And in general:
- Whoever is careful to wear Tzitzit merits fine garments.
- Whoever is careful with the Mitzva of Mezuza merits a fine house.
- Whoever is careful with Kiddush merits fine wines.
Rabbeinu Bechaye points out that the real rewards for the performance of any Mitzva is actually in the next world, and what we receive in this world are merely the “fruits” of the performance of those particular Mitzvot. Nonetheless, there is a powerful connection between the objects we utilize in our service of God and the blessings that result.
May our possessions be good, useful and beautiful and may we receive the blessing of their positive influence and development.
To Yeshiva University. It was wonderful to spend Shabbat at my alma mater and see how the community has grown and developed since my student days.