Toldos – Self-Pride

In this week’s Torah portion of Toldos, Yitzchak blessed Yaakov saying, “Behold, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field, which Hashem has blessed! And may HaElokim give you of the dew of the heavens and [of] the fatness of the earth and an abundance of grain and wine. Nations shall serve you and kingdoms shall bow down to you; you shall be a master over your brothers, and your mother’s sons shall bow down to you. Those who curse you shall be cursed, and those who bless you shall be blessed” (Breishis 27:27-29).

The Daas Zekeinim observes that the name, Elokim, used in pasuk 28, is the name used as the attribute of strict justice, meaning this blessing will only come to fruition when you are deserving of it. However when Yitzchak blessed Esav it writes, “Behold, your dwelling place shall be the fat places of the earth and of the dew of the heaven from above” (Breishis 27:39), implying whether he is deserving of it or not. We also find in King Shlomo’s prayer by the Jews he said, “and give to each man according to his ways” (Divrei Hayamim Beis 6:30), for they would not complain to You. Whereas by the gentiles, Shlomo prayed, “and You shall do whatever the stranger calls upon You etc.”  (Divrei Hayamim Beis 6:33), for if Hashem doesn’t then the gentile will complain, and hurl accusations  On High. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Yitzchak gave the blessings to Yaakov on the contingency that he is deserving to accept them. In a similar vein, King Shlomo in his prayer upon building the Beis HaMikdash, he started to organize the prayers for the Jews, as it is written, “Any prayer, any supplication, which will be (made) by any man, (or) by all Your people Israel, who shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house. And You shall hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart You know, for You, alone, know the hearts of all the children of men. That they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers. And also to the stranger, who (is) not of Your people Israel, but will come from a far country for the sake of Your Name. For they shall hear of Your great Name, and of Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm, and he will come and pray toward this house. You shall hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calls You for, that all peoples of the earth may know Your Name, to fear You, as (do) Your people Israel, and that they may know that Your Name is called upon this house that I have built” (Melachim Alef 8:38-43.)

Why is it that Yitzchak only blessed Esav with unconditional success and Shlomo prayed that whatever the Non-Jews pray for be granted in order so that they will not question and bear hard feelings towards Hashem which would cause a chilul Hashem? Isn’t it possible that the Jews will hurl the same complaints for their prayers not being answered or the blessing not coming to fruition even if they don’t deserve it? Why is it fair to differentiate, a blessing is a blessing and a prayer is a prayer, if they should be answered then answer them and if not then why make exceptions for the non-Jews ,isn’t it possible that a Jew might hurl insults and disputes if he does not get what he wants and expects? Aren’t we all human and feel disappointment when things aren’t going our way especially when we are told that it should? Why then does the Daas Zekeinim say that in fact a Jew would not quarrel or question Hashem if He doesn’t answer his prayers or fulfill the blessings if he isn’t deserving?

However, there is an oft quoted Mishna in Pirkay Avos that says, “Beloved is man for he was created in the image [of God]. Especially beloved is he for it was made known to him that he had been created in the image [of God], as it is said: ‘For in the image of God He made man’(Genesis 9:6).
Beloved are Israel in that they were called children to the All-Present. Especially beloved are they for it was made known to them that they are called children of the All-Present, as it is said: ‘You are children to the Lord your God’ (Deuteronomy 14:1).
Beloved are Israel in that a precious vessel was given to them. Especially beloved are they for it was made known to them that the desirable instrument, with which the world had been created, was given to them, as it is said: ‘For I give you good instruction; forsake not my teaching’ (Proverbs 4:2)” (Avos 3:14).

Though Hashem loves every single human being  there is an extra, double-fold love He has to His beloved Children who He gave His precious gift the Torah to,  why does that mean we shouldn’t have any disputes against Hashem if things aren’t going our way, our prayers aren’t answered and the blessings He promised seem not to be fulfilled?

This sense of Jewish greatness, described in the Mishna, not only shows we are more special than the rest of the world but it comes with it a demand for responsibility to be able to live up to our status of beloved princes and princess of the King of All Kings and to take care of and follow the gift He gave to us. If a Jew realizes and imbibes in him or herself the feeling of self-pride and the realization of who we are then we won’t have any questions or disputes against our Father in Heaven.

It’s a blessing to be expected to live up to the pedestal that the Jewish people were put on and it is inside each and every one of us the ability to appreciate that honorable status, realize the responsibility that comes with it, and actually live up to that responsibility.