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Leket Yosef:Toledot: An Improved Blessing

The 30th of Cheshvan is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef ben Mordechai Ginzburg, author of Leket Yosef, died November 26, 1715. The Midrash Tanchuma on Toledot quotes the verse, “And Isaac trembled in very great perplexity,” (Genesis 27:33) and asks, “What blessing should one recite when drinking olive oil? We make a special blessing on drinking wine, should we not recite a special blessing when drinking oil?

The Leket Yosef wonders how the Midrash’s halachic question relates to the verse that describes Isaac’s trembling. He answers that the difference between wine and oil is that wine has been improved over the simple juice of the grape, and when it reaches its new improved level, it deserves a new blessing. Isaac understood that Jacob and Esau were not different expressions of one similar strength. One, Jacob, was good, and smelled of Eden, while Esau, was evil and smelled of hell. Jacob had obviously improved himself and risen to a new level.

Isaac trembles because he wondered if the blessings he gave Jacob would be effective, when he gave the blessing to someone at one level, but the recipient had actually been an improved version, much as wine has a different blessing than a grape.

We recite the same blessings every day for many of the gifts we receive from God. If we have improved our selves and use of that gift, we should strive to improve the blessing we recite as well. For example, if we have reached a new level in our Torah study, we should improve our blessings over the Torah.

If we have increased our appreciation of certain Mitzvot and improved our practice of those laws, we should also recite the blessing of that Mitzvah at an entirely new level as well.

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