Two Approaches to Parenting

Outside the Galil Mountain Winery, Northern Israel
Outside the Galil Mountain Winery, Northern Israel

In a previous post, I asked:

Let’s say your teenage or college age child goes away to school. How do you supply funds?

In this week’s parsha of Toldot, Yitzchak gives a blessing to his two sons, one to Esav and one to Yaakov.

Here’s Yaakov’s blessing (Genesis 27:28) —

וְיִתֶּן-לְךָ, הָאֱלֹהִים, מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּמִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ--וְרֹב דָּגָן, וְתִירֹשׁ.
May God give you the dew of the heavens and the fatness of the earth, and abundant grain and wine.

Rabbi Frand (from Rabbi Frand on the Parashah 2) wonders why is the term for God here Elo-kim, which represents the Attribute of Divine Justice? Why not the Attribute of Mercy?

Rabbi Frand tells us Rashi’s explanation:

Although Yitzchak blessed Yaakov with much abundance, he made those blessings conditional. Yaakov has to deserve the abundance; the blessings would only come to fruition during those times that his descendants keep the Torah and mitzvos.

In contrast, here’s Esav’s blessing (Genesis 27:39) —:

וַיַּעַן יִצְחָק אָבִיו, וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו: הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ, יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ, וּמִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם, מֵעָל

And Isaac his father answered and said unto him: Behold, of the fat places of the earth shall be thy dwelling, and of the dew of heaven from above;

Esav’s blessing seems to be unconditional, with no strings attached. Why does Yaakov, the righteous son, only receive a conditional blessing, while the wicked Esav is blessed with guaranteed wealth?

Go back and review the choices I gave for how a parent could fund a child. If the parent gives a credit card, that is like Esav’s blessing. He doesn’t need to contact his parents further. Yaakov, on the other hand, needs to check in with his parents, to phone home, to maintain a relationship with God by doing mitzvot and keeping the Torah.

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