Parashat Lech Lecha: Receiving the Power to Bless
When G-d first spoke to Abraham and commanded him to leave his homeland and move to what would become known as the Land of Israel, He made several promises, including, "Va’abarechecha Mebarecheka, U’mekelelcha A’or" – "I shall bless those who bless you, and those who curse you, I shall curse." G-d assured Abraham that those who bless him and his descendants would be blessed, and those who curse him and his descendants would be cursed.
The Or Ha’hayim Ha’kadosh (Rav Haim Ben-Attar, 1696-1743) notes the different sequences in the two parts of this phrase. When it comes to those who bless Abraham, G-d promised, "I will bless those who bless you," mentioning first His blessing, and then the blessing which people give to Abraham. But in the next part of the verse, G-d says, "those who curse you, I shall curse" – mentioning first the curse which people would try to place on Abraham, and then that G-d would curse them. What is the reason for these different sequences?
The Or Ha’hayim explains that the first phrase – "I shall bless those who bless you" – means that G-d would bless people who bless Abraham even before they actually utter the blessing, as soon as they intend to bless him. Those who curse Abraham, however, would be cursed by G-d only after they actually utter the curse. And thus G-d stated, "I shall bless those who bless you" – indicating that they will be blessed even before they pronounce their blessing to Abraham" – and "those who curse you, I shall curse" – indicating that they will be cursed only after cursing Abraham.
Why would those who bless Abraham or the Jewish People be rewarded even before they actually pronounce the blessing, whereas those who curse Abraham or his descendants are punished only after pronouncing the curse?
The Or Ha’hayim offers a number of explanations, one of which is that people need to be blessed in order to grant blessings to others. The blessings that people would confer upon Abraham or upon the Jewish Nation will not be effective unless those people have themselves been blessed. Therefore, G-d assured Abraham that He would grant blessings to all those who intend or wish to bless him or his descendants. These blessings will then grant them the power to bless Am Yisrael. This is the meaning of "Va’abarechecha Mebarecheka" – that G-d will bless those who wish to bless the Jewish People, empowering them to give us their blessing.
The more we desire to bring blessing to other people, and to the world, the more G-d blesses us with this ability. If we truly strive to bless and give to the world, then we will receive G-d’s blessings to enable us to do so.