Parshat Toldot: The relevance of goodness (II)

“And he [Jacob] came near, and kissed him [Isaac]. And he [Isaac] smelled the scent of his garments and blessed him; and said, ‘See, the smell of my son is as the scent of a field that the Lord blessed’.” (Genesis 27:27).

We said in our commentary on last week’s parshat Chayei Sarah that the “field” Abraham bought to bury his wife is the Garden of Eden. Our Sages explain that Isaac’s apparent absence from his mother’s funeral was because after he was offered in sacrifice to God by Abraham, the Creator took Isaac to dwell with Him in the Garden of Eden for three years. Hence Isaac was familiar with the scent of a field that the Lord blessed.

We also mentioned goodness as the quality of this “field”, for it is what God blessed life to grow, expand and flourish in the material world. Such is His will to make goodness prevail for eternity. In this understanding, Jacob embodies goodness, the “scent” of God’s source of blessings; hence Isaac recognized him as the rightful vessel for goodness to be bestowed in the material world.

“So may God give you the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the earth, and abundant grain and wine. May the peoples serve you and may nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brethren and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be every one that curses you, and blessed be every one that blesses you.” (27:28-29)

These blessings confirm that God wants goodness to prevail in human consciousness in order to enable humankind to spread on the earth. In this dynamic process, “the dew of heavens” (spiritual sustenance) and the “fatness of the earth” (material sustenance) interact in a continuous endless cycle that recreates and expands unrevealed qualities and expressions of goodness, as the “abundant grain and wine” that represent physical and emotional fulfillment.

In this sense, we all are bound to “bow” to goodness and serve its purpose. These verses refer to God’s will for the world and the role of Israel (Jacob) as His chosen people to accomplish it. This is repeatedly stated by the Jewish prophets as the Creator’s promise for the Messianic era, when only goodness will rule and direct human consciousness. Hence Isaac’s blessings are similar the ones God gave to Abraham, and Isaac gave to Joseph in Egypt.

The “peoples” and the “nations” are also destined to serve goodness and bow to it. The second verse refers to Jacob’s “brethren” as his mother’s sons. We can understand Jacob’s “mother” both as God’s source of goodness for the world, which is Jerusalem where the children of Israel belong.

The Jewish people serve the same goodness that our forefather Jacob embodies. When Jacob gives Joseph his blessing among his brothers, “on the crown of the head of the prince among his brethren” (Genesis 49:26), it refers to him as the reference for goodness like his father is, for both complement each other.

“(…) And the house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble; and they shall kindle in them, and devour them. And there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken.” (Obadiah 1:17-18)

The prophet Obadiah presents Jacob’s “fire” and Joseph “flame” in reference to goodness and in contrast to evil, Esau’s “house of stubble” is destined to disappear in the times the Creator assigns for His final redemption. The Torah’s verse ends mentioning what is inherent to goodness and evil, “cursed be every one that curses you, and blessed be every one that blesses you”. The first part is explained by King David, and the second speaks for itself.

“The wicked shall be killed by evil, and the enemies of the righteous are condemned.” (Psalms 34:22)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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