5761 - #7
THE PERSONALITY OF BLESSINGS
T.B. Eruvin 65b
states that one can tell about another bkoso
ubkiso ubkaso, through ones cup -
how one handles alcohol, through ones pocket - how
one deals with financial matters,1 and through ones anger. The first one
and the last one are clearly understandable. Anger and
alcohol remove inhibitions; as they pierce the veil, we
see the raw elements of ones personality.2 The revelation of bkiso
is somewhat different. The parameter of money forces us
to choose. A child may wish the chocolate bar and the bag
of peanuts but can only afford one. The choice reveals
what the child desired more. Choice reveals glimpses of
self. How one spends money, how one prioritizes needs
based upon the parameters of existence, especially
financial parameters, tells us much about the person. In
the same vein, what one considers to be a blessing also
reveals much about a person.
Rabbi Benjamin Hecht e-mail
1 Rashi states that this refers to faithfulness in business. The more colloquial understanding is that this refers to ones generosity and spending on charitable causes. There are also references to, simply, how one spends money which is the approach upon which we will build.
2 I use the term raw elements for control and inhibitions are also part of the human being and, as such, we must still distinguish between the individual bkoso ubkaso and the true self. The state of bkoso ubkaso reveals much about the human being but still cannot be defined as the true self.A definition of the true self must still include the individuals expressions of control and inhibitions. The picture of bkoso ubkaso really reveals the dynamics of self within an individual. By revealing the raw elements of the individual we gain insight into how the individual deals with the emotions of self to arrive at the final presentation of self. Two individuals may act in the same manner but from a picture of the raw elements of self we see that the internal mechanism used to arrive at similar behaviour may be a nd often is different.
3 Bereishit 12:2. Rashi states that travel has three consequences. It lessens relations thus causing a reduction in children. It lessens wealth. It lessens one standing, i.e. ones name. The blessing thus was a response to ensure Avraham that his travel would not cause any reduction in these three areas. See Siftei Chachamim. What is interesting is that, aside from the promise of wealth, the blessing really concerns the future, even the distant future. Avraham is not promised a large immediate family but that he would be the founder of a great nation which, actually, flowed from only one child. (The reference to nation here being solely to Israel - see Bereishit Rabbah 39:11.) This recognition would seem to support my expansion of Rashis theory. It is also interesting to note, again in support of my further contention, how these three items are considered to be similar concerns. Concern for wealth, for children, for a good name all flow from desires of the self. To Avraham a good name is to be a source of good. The question is not selflessness versus selfishness but rather what we should be selfish about - what we should desire.
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