Weekly Torah Portion

Fear, Love, and Awe in The Service Of Hashem

These are the offspring of Yitzchak the son of Avraham; Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak.
(Bereishis 25:19)
 
[We can explain this verse] by first explaining the pasuk “And Yitzchak planted…and he found one hundred blessings… [literally, ‘measures’ or ‘gates’]” (Bereishis 26:12). * We can say that this alludes * to the idea that the mission of the righteous Tzaddik must always be to elevate the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, which is represented by the final letter hei [in the fourletter Name of Hashem]. We derive this from Rashi’s commentary of this verse: “This estimation was for maaser, tithing.” Rashi is hinting at what we previously explained, that Yitzchak measured himself as one measures maaser, which in this case means terumah, for the verse calls maaser terumah.” Many sources explain that terumah can be read as “tarum hei,” elevate the letter hei back to its place.
 

[The Tikunei Zohar explains that the four-letter Name of Hashem — Yud-Hey-Vav-Hei — is fractured in our exile, and the final hei, which represents the divine aspect of Malchus, Kingship, and the Divine Presence called the Shechinah, is in exile. Our mission in exile is to reunite the Holy Name and restore Hashem’s Kingship, thus uplifting the final hei to its proper place.]

 
The primary divine service is performed with awe and love; this, too, is alluded to in the word terumah which can be broken up to read, “trei mimeah — two from among one hundred.” A Jew is obligated to recite one hundred blessings daily with the two attributes of love and awe. For a Tzaddik, this is considered “planting seeds,” because through these two attributes, awe and love, a great spiritual light is planted. This is the hidden meaning of the verse “Ohr zarua laTzaddik — A light is planted by the Tzaddik” (Tehillim 97:11). Through this planting we find “meah shearim, one hundred gates — with each blessing that the Tzaddik makes, he opens one of the hundred heavenly gates in the upper worlds. These gates are called “one hundred blessings” — that is, breichos, pools and wellsprings from which the divine influx of blessing flows [ברכות, “blessings,” has the same root as בריכות , “wellsprings”]. This then is the meaning of the verse: “Yitzchak planted [with love and awe] and he found one hundred gates of blessing.”
 
It is taught that fear of Heaven precedes divine love in the service of Hashem, because the feelings of love grow from the initial fear of punishment. There is, however, a higher level of awe, which develops from the love. This is implied in our verse, “These are the offspring of Yitzchak ben Avraham.” Yitzchak is the origin of Avraham, who represents love. In this way, “ben Avraham” is read to mean that Avraham is the ben, or the son, of Yitzchak, who represents yirah, implying that love is born of fear.
 
The verse continues: “Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak.” This refers to the higher level of fear or awe which is in turn born from love. * This is hinted at in Rashi’s comment that “toldos,” offspring, refers to Yaakov and Esav, who are mentioned later in the parashah. In other words, what is the practical outcome of all this? He answers that it is Yaakov and Esav, Yaakov referring to rachamim, mercy, and Esav to din, strict justice. Serving Hashem with awe and love awakens mercy and breaks the harsh decrees of judgment.
 
“Afterwards his brother [Yaakov] was born holding on to the heel of Esav” (Bereishis 25:26) — this implies that sometimes the nations of the world are empowered and wish to harm Israel, Heaven forbid. It may even seem that this tragedy is imminent and that once it starts, there is nothing more to be done, that the matter is finished. Yet even if this plan almost comes to fruition, the Tzaddik has the power to grasp the root of the matter and prevent it. This is the “hand” grasping the “heel of Esav” — the Tzaddik’s power takes hold of the situation, even if it is coming to its final stages, and prevents it from transpiring. Even though Esav continues to try to finish us off, the Tzaddik holds him back and causes great mercy to be awakened to aid the Jewish people, Amen. *
 

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