Parashat Toldot // “Generations”

- א נ י -

What is the spiritual level required for experiencing a revelation?

Esau gives precedence to the physical world, whereas Jacob focuses on the spirit

“And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents” Genesis 25:27

  • Maimonides claims that “every man was endowed with a free will; if he desires to bend himself toward the good path and to be just it is within the power of his hand to reach out for it, and if he desires to bend himself to a bad path and to be wicked it is within the power of his hand to reach out for it” (Mishneh Torah, Repentance 5). Esau prefers ephemeral life (i.e. the lentil stew) over his primogeniture; he belittles its transcendental significance and is even willing to trade it.
  • Esau engages in hunting and farming and is inclined towards the physical – the external husk. In contrast, Jacob is focused on intellectual pursuits (“staying among the tents”; Genesis 25:27). Jacob’s personal spiritual spark is the reason Isaac can bless only him. Despite Isaac’s love for Esau, he knows that God’s promises and blessings must be handed down to Jacob in order for them to be preserved.

Jacob deprives Esau of his blessing

“Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed beevery one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee” Genesis 27:28 – 29

  • Isaac’s blessing for Jacob focuses on the influx of continuous and gradual grace (“and may God give you”; Genesis 27:28). This grace cannot be allotted all at once because humans are only ready to receive heavenly blessings according to their current spiritual state. We need to build “vessels” to contain spiritual gifts. As these become deeper, the light we receive starts coming from the “dew of heaven” (idem) – that is, from superior worlds.

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “Generations”  

  • We aspire to find balance in the same way that Jacob does – between blessings and lacking, gratitude and the desire for more, physical and material urges, restriction and restraint. 
  • Light needs a vessel to contain it. Isaac digs the wells so that he can flourish. Light and blessings can only fill our souls when we have created vessels to receive and hold them.
  • We cannot see the bigger picture as events unfold, but rather only in hindsight or from afar. Jacob’s life is filled with tests and challenges, but he is blessed to father the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • Blessings can only come to us when we remove our klipot (husks) and reveal our own divine sparks of light. The deeper we go, the higher we will ascend – and the greater will be the blessings received. 
  • The river of abundance wants to reach us, but we are not always prepared to receive it. We can only reveal and accept our blessings through personal effort. Our blessings are proportionate to the spiritual levels that we achieve through our own personal efforts.

Giving must be done freely, without expectation of reward.