The effectiveness of any blessing depends on the spiritual level of the person giving it
“So Yaakov blessed Pharaoh and left Pharaoh’s presence.” (Bereishis 47:10)
It’s customary to bestow a blessing upon royalty before leaving their presence. Rashi says that Yaakov blessed Pharaoh that the waters of the Nile should rise when he approached the river.
Pharaoh eventually misused this brachah by deifying himself, saying, “I created myself and the Nile river.” Wasn’t Yaakov aware of this possibility? (Rabbi Dovid Hofstedter, Dorash Dovid)
When my oldest daughter got engaged, I had exactly eight weeks from the moment it became official until the night of the chasunah. Eight weeks of whirlwind appointments, errands, and most of all shopping. My credit card company did a major jig as I ran around from store to store.
There were pots to buy and toivel, dishes to choose and toivel, two sets of silverware to toivel, and a set of china that was responsible for a four-hour delay in the store as each box of china was accidently packaged with an assortment of patterns. (One flowered bowl, one geometric plate, one striped cup; I kid you not.)
My daughter obviously believed that every store would be closing its doors the moment she walked down the aisle and therefore her small fifth-floor walk-up needed to be completely habitable before any glass was broken under the chuppah.
We schlepped boxes of linens up five narrow flights, made countless shopping trips to stock her fridge and pantry, and debated the merits of traditional red and blue for dairy and meat versus trendy turquoise and burgundy.
Every morning I woke up with a renewed sense of urgency, reams of lists spilling out of my purse, and a tefillah for kefitzas haderech.
It’s important to note that there are two types of blessings: blessings for spiritual gifts, and blessings for physical advantages. Physical gifts are not necessarily to the recipient’s advantage, but spiritual blessings can only benefit their recipients.
The effectiveness of any blessing depends on the spiritual level of the person giving it. The Malbim explains that to give a blessing, one must connect his soul to the Source of all blessing and draw down a measure to his recipient. Rabbeinu Bechaye suggests that it is for this reason that Kohanim raise their hands while blessing the congregation.
The Seforno explains this is why many bestow blessings on their deathbed. Their soul has already begun to detach itself from this world and is more connected to Hashem, lending greater effectiveness to their blessing.
Hashem heard my tefillos. The night of the chasunah, as I gazed at my daughter resplendent in her gown, I forgot the craziness of the past two months and the fact that the gown had only come back from alterations a scant two days before. I saw only the glow on my daughter’s face and the way her eyes sought her chassan’s as he approached for the badeken.
Pharaoh’s blessing served a specific purpose. Yaakov wanted the Mitzrim to recognize that all the bounty they’d receive was in the merit of Bnei Yisrael. This blessing had its desired effect. However, because it was a blessing for physical gain — irrigation and crops — it had the potential for misuse, which is precisely what occurred.
I always cry at badekens. Not sure why they open the faucets more than chuppahs do, but somehow that moment brings on the tissues. My daughter’s badeken was no exception.
Tears rolled down my cheeks unchecked as my son-in-law spread her veil, and then sobs rose in my throat as my husband bent to bentsh her. Then the men were turning back, and I was supposed to adjust the veil and prepare to walk toward the chuppah.
But suddenly I found myself turning to my daughter and speaking to her in a low voice. “I also want to bentsh you,” I whispered. I placed my hands gently over her snowy white crown and slowly began whispering the age-old words: “Yesimech Elokim…”
The noise and lights faded in my urgency to convey my wishes and brachos to my little girl who would soon be a wife. The weeks of preparation and scores of gifts and items I’d acquired for her meant so little compared to this one moment of need — the need to give my daughter the most precious gift of all as she embarked on her new life.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 675)
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