“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great
and you will be a blessing.” — Genesis 12:2
The Torah portion for this week is Lech Lecha, which means “go to yourself.” It is from Genesis 12:1–17:27, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 40:27–41:16.
We all want God’s blessings. The priestly blessing, which was once recited in the Holy Temple and still is recited in synagogues today, reads, “May the LORD bless you and keep you; May the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace” (based on Numbers 6: 24–26). However, there is something even greater than being blessed – and that is to be a blessing.
In this week’s reading, God blessed Abraham and said: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great . . .” Abraham would be blessed, famous, the father of a great nation. However, the verse concludes with the best part of all: “ . . . and you will be a blessing.”
While most people walk through life asking how they can be blessed, the question we ought to be asking is, “How can I be a blessing to others?” Here’s why: When we bless others, it means that we have so much blessing in our own lives that we can share with others; we can lend and not borrow. When we bless others, we receive a joy that ironically is even greater than when we are the recipients of blessings from others. Most significantly, when we bless others, we please God, and God blesses us even more in return. We should start every day asking how we might be a blessing today.
Recently I came across three short stories about being a blessing to others. In the first story, a woman recalled finding an anonymous note on her front door that said, “Don’t worry; you were created awesome, not perfect.” This woman was going through a hard time, and these words were just what she needed. Years later, she “paid it forward” by placing encouraging notes on other people’s doors.
In the second story, a man was in the hospital with his sick wife when the person in front of him in line at the cafeteria paid for his meal. When he asked the woman why she did that the woman responded that she wanted to make his first day easier. It gave him the boost he needed to get through the day. In the third story, a woman decided to anonymously send her new neighbors a pizza lunch wishing them a nice day.
What struck me about all three stories was how easy it is to be a blessing – and also how rewarding it is.
How might you be a blessing to others today? What small act of kindness can brighten someone’s day? When you focus on blessing others, God will concentrate on blessing you.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President