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What's the greatest blessing I can receive?

יעקב מברך את בניו לפני מותו
ציור: יואל וקסברגר, מלכות וקסברגר

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

What's the greatest blessing I can receive? The greatest blessing is to find out who I truly am. In this week's Torah portion, Ya'akov Avinu blesses his sons before he passes away. Each child receives "open heart surgery." Each hears what his mission in life is to be.

However, some of his sons do not receive just a blessing, but a rebuke as well. Reuven, for example, hears his father speak harshly about his impulsivity and tendency to panic. This is a call to be more calm and circumspect. Shimon and Levi are reprimanded for their violent past behavior.

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe explains why the book of Genesis, that began with the creation of the universe, ends with a deep look into the souls of Jacob's sons. It's a look into the souls of our ancestors and is therefore an invitation to look into our own souls as well.

"A person's character traits, the root of their soul, is of most profound concern, and so Ya'akov Avinu blesses his sons by revealing their personalities to them. A person can live an entire lifetime without knowing who they are. And the greatest blessing a person can receive is to know their positive qualities and their flaws. When a person is told they must be wary of a particular character trait, this can provide stability throughout their life. Only by knowing our flaws can we be rescued from them and improve ourselves. This is a tremendous blessing."

During a week in which the Torah portion describes the character traits of Ya'akov's sons, we too can ask: What are our positive character traits? What are our flaws? Only by knowing all aspects of our souls can we be truly blessed and thus be a blessing to the world.


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