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'Please take my gift which comes to you (Esau) for G-d favored me (Jacob) and I have everything.' (33:11)
In short, this week's Parasha is one of temporary - though spectacular - trials and tribulations, towards a greater goal.
The Parasha opens with the elaborate preparations that Jacob made to appease the wrath Esau might well be holding against him for his loss of the Birthright and the Blessing. Jacob pressed Esau to take a slice of his wealth on the grounds that G-d had favored him and given him 'kol' - literally 'all'.
In the Grace after Meals, we ask G-d to bless us as 'He blessed our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 'bakol mikol kol' - 'in all, from all, all'. This is based on the following verses:
1. G-d had blessed Abraham 'bakol' - 'in all' (24:1)
2. Isaac trembled greatly (when Esau presented him with freshly hunted venison) and said: 'Who - where - is the one who hunted venison, brought it to me, and I ate 'mikol' - 'from all'… (27:33)
3. 'Please take my gift which comes to you (Esau) for G-d favored me (Jacob) and I have 'kol' - 'all'. (33:11)
'Bakol' is for Abraham - who is known foremost for his 'chesed' - kindness (c.f. Micah 7:20). 'Mikol' connects with Isaac, who is attributed with 'pachad' - fear and deep respect of G-d (31:42, Ibn Ezra ad loc), and 'gevura' (dignified spiritual strength) (Sam. II 22:26, Rashi ad loc). Jacob is associated with 'emet' - truth (Micah, ad loc), and 'temimut' - modest decency (25:27).
These words 'bakol mikol kol' appear to fit the respective strengths of the Patriarchs. Abraham needed to be blessed in everything. For 'chesed' addresses the requirements of others. Each person's needs are different. One person needs a loan, a second has to satisfy his hunger, the third seeks means of earning a living, the fourth yearns for a listening and understanding ear… A 'baal chesed' - a person continually involved in helping others - needs a large range of resources. He needs to go 'ba-kol' - 'in' to access 'all' - needs to be 'in' to a large range of connections to maximize his resources to assist Humanity. In contrast, the sources of Isaac's strengths are spiritual - 'pachad' and 'gevura'. His spiritual impact and contribution needs to be backed with affluence - albeit to a lesser degree than a 'baal chesed'. (Indeed, no major personality in the Tenach ever suffered long-term poverty.) Thus 'mi-kol' - 'from all' - was sufficient for Isaac's needs, for he did not need to draw on material resources to the same degree as Abraham.
And Jacob - whose hallmarks are 'emet' - truth, and 'temimut' - decency - needed merely 'all' - all required to satisfy his own needs - no more and no less. So he would not miss the huge donation he wished to pass on to Esau… Indeed, when Jacob traveled to Haran twenty years previously, he only asked for the bare essentials - 'bread to eat and clothes to wear' (28:20) - so that he would have the necessities to carry out his role in life - as the third Patriarch of the future Israelite nation. As the Radak explains, the righteous only ask for necessities, not luxuries. That was 'kol' - 'all' to Jacob.
Thus a deeper meaning of the words: 'bakol mikol kol' - 'in all, from all, all' is that we pray to G-d after a meal to give us according to our needs - 'as our Father's were blessed (according to their needs)… so may we all be blessed' (according to our needs). (Grace after Meals).
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: email@example.com for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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