Being a Blessing


Moshe Kempinski


When we first encountered Avraham in the Torah portion of Lech Lecha we read of a powerful blessing that includes an unusual phrase;

“And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3) .

What do the words “And so you shall be a blessing” actually mean?
What is a blessing?

The classic understanding of a blessing, is that it is something that is conducive to happiness or welfare. It is also thought of as a means ‘to be favored by G-d’.

In the book of Genesis we encounter the first occurrence of the word ‘blessing’,

“And G-d blessed them, saying: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” (Genesis 1:22) .

Then again we read regarding Adam and Eve,

” And G-d blessed them; and G-d said unto them: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ (ibid:28) .

The concept based on these verses is that dominion over the earth is connected to happiness and welfare.

Yet in fact the biblical concept of blessing goes far deeper. All the benefits accrued to blessing is simply a result or byproduct of being blessed but not its essence.

The word for blessing “Bracha” is multilayered in meaning and is understood to come from several sources. One of those sources connect it to the Hebrew word “L’havrich” .

This word describes the agricultural process of the pulling down of a vine and placing part of the branch in the ground so that it can sprout new roots and begin to grow another renewed plant.

That is to say it involves the process of re-rooting the plant back into the sustenance filled earth so that it can be empowered and renewed.

With this understanding one can understand that blessing is a divinely inspired process of re-rooting . That re-rooting leads to a resurgence and revitalization of the strengths and potential already ensconced and found within. That is the power of blessing.

That is the meaning of the verse in psalms” Blessed are you to Hashem ( Bruchim Atem LaShem )who made heaven and earth.”(psalm 115:15).

It should have said “Blessed are you by Hashem” or blessed are you because of Hashem’. What does blessed are you to Hashem mean?

What King David is describing is the joys of being rooted in Hashem, like the vines in a vineyard.

So what then does it mean to “become a blessing” ?

Clearly the life and actions of an individual has the potential to inspire, empower or motivate another to desire that same re-rooting into our Divine source. Avraham became “a blessing” because everything in his life inspired others to be blessed.

“And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had made, and the souls they had made ( asher asu) in Haran, and they went to go to the land of Canaan, and they came to the land of Canaan.” ( Genesis 12:5).

Who then are those souls that they had made in Charan.

The ancient commentator Rashi writes on the words “they had made” the following;

“Who are the souls they had made in Haran: these are those that he ( Avraham) had brought under the wings of the Shechinah.

What then exemplified that characteristic of “blessing” that so defined Avraham?

And now, Israel, what does Hashem your G-d ask of you but to fear Hashem your G-d, to walk in all His ways (Hessed), and to love Him, and to serve Hashem your G-d (Obedience) with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 10:12)

Avraham was the paragon of loving kindness( Hessed) and he was also the master of obedience. His lovingkindness is so clearly displayed in his hurried almost frantic desire to feed and comfort his three unusual guests.

His obedience most clearly defined by his hurried although deeply pained obedience to Hashem’s request to raise his son as an offering.

Hashem knows that this man, Avraham, that Hashem calls His friend “ shall be a blessing” for all who yearn to walk in his footsteps.

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

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