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    Isaac’s own blessing – Tol’dot

    Isaac, from a 1906 Bible card

    Isaac, from a 1906 Bible card

    Blessings play a major role in today’s sidra.

    The controversial blessing gained by Jacob understandably receives the most attention. However, the blessing given by God to Isaac also invites investigation.

    “And Isaac sowed in that land,” says the Torah, “and found in the same year a hundred-fold (me’ah sh’arim); and the Lord blessed him” (Gen. 26:12).

    Me’ah sh’arim has come to bear a different modern meaning, but at that time it denoted that Isaac harvested 100 times as much as he expected.

    This prosperity was obviously a great blessing, but logically the verse should have read, “And the Lord blessed him and he found… a hundred-fold”.

    How could he have reaped such a wonderful harvest without God’s blessing?

    Rabbi Isaac of Vorki said that the word order in the verse emphasises how great a tzaddik Isaac was.

    An ordinary person, he says, expects things from God. He prays and he believes God will work a miracle for him. If he wants prosperity, he presumes that God will bless him and then he will enjoy a good harvest.

    But Isaac was a tzaddik, and he did not want to rely on miracles or to bother God too much. He got to work by himself and decided that whatever his efforts produced would be enough.

    He earned his own abundant harvest, and this attitude was in itself the Divine blessing.

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