Be A Blessing

Congregation Emeth’s Year of Living Jewishly

Mitzvah of the Week*Be a Blessing

Last week’s Torah reading was our introduction to our first Patriarch, Abraham.  As I explained in my Dvar Torah (“words of Torah, sermon) at services last Shabbat, the Torah reading began with these words: 

God tells Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you.  I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you.  And all families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” Bereshit (Genesis)12:2-3)

In those 3 sentences, the word “bless” is used five times.  But why?  In Chumash Etz Hayyim, the commentator Hirsh explains that this statement, “you shall be a blessing” is not a promise but a commandment!  Abram was commanded, as are we, to live our lives so that we are a blessing to the world.  Our task is not to merit blessings but to be a blessing to others.


In other words, we acquire blessings by being a blessing to others.  To perform the Mitzvah of the Week, practice being a blessing to others and to this world.  Acts of loving kindness is one way to be blessing.  Being politically active and standing up for causes you believe in is another.  Activities to protect the environment might be another.  Be conscious of the ways you are a blessing to your family, your community, our congregation, our environment.  Make “blessing” not only a noun, but also a verb.

May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,

​Rabbi Debbie Israel