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In this week’s Torah portion, we read that Avraham was very old and that Hashem blessed him “bakol,” with everything (Bereishit 24:1). Two weeks ago, in Lech Lecha, Hashem commands Avraham to leave his place of birth and travel to an unknown destination where Hashem promises him that he will become a great nation and receive blessing and fame. The above verse seems to be the fulfillment of the promise.

The Gemara (Bava Batra 16b) discusses the meaning of “bakol.” One opinion is that Avraham had a daughter named Bakol. Another opinion says that he did not have a daughter (this was considered a blessing because if he had a daughter, there would have been nobody to marry her except the sons of Canaan). Another opinion says Avraham had a precious stone hanging on a pendant around his neck, and anyone who saw it was instantly cured of any ailment. Rashi says bakol means he had a son – Yitzchak. And so on, the various commentaries bring different explanations for the meaning of bakol.”


I would like to bring the explanation from sefer Meir Panim that says that bakol is a philosophy of life.

In a few weeks, we will read of Yaakov’s reunion with his brother Eisav. Yaakov, fearful that his brother may still want to kill him for “stealing” Yitzchak’s blessing, sends ahead bountiful gifts to Eisav. When they finally meet up, Eisav is reluctant to accept the gifts. Eisav says to Yaakov “Brother, I have rav, a lot, keep that which is yours” (Bereishit 33:9). Yaakov responds, “Please accept the gift I have brought you, because G-d has blessed me and I have kol, everything” (Bereishit 33:11).

We know that both Yaakov and Eisav were exceedingly wealthy. The Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 73:11) says that Yaakov had 600,000 sheepdogs to tend all his flocks. If one sheepdog is capable of tending 80 or more sheep (according to Google), this means that Yaakov had 48 million sheep, or more! Eisav too was not lacking wealth. Yitzchak ended up giving Eisav the intended blessing of material wealth: “You will dwell off the fat of the land and the dew of the Heavens” (Bereishit 27:39).

In this epic reunion, you have two multi-billionaires, each with a different life philosophy. Eisav’s is rav, a lot; Yaakov’s is kol, everything. How do they differ?

Eisav, even though he is filthy rich, always craves more. “I have rav – a lot!” Eisav is the “half empty cup” life philosophy; nothing is ever enough for him; he pursues materialism for its own sake and is never satisfied. Yaakov, on the other hand, is the “half full cup” life philosophy. Life on this earth can never be perfect, but whatever he has, Yaakov is content with that. To him that is “everything.”

Yaakov is the epitome of the saying, “Who is wealthy? One who is content with his portion” (Pirkei Avot 4:1).

The Ramban on our verse (Bereishit 24:1), says that the concept of “kol” is one of Hashem’s Thirteen Attributes of Mercy” and embodies the secret of Creation.

In Kabbalah here is analyzing texts in the Torah with a method called “AtBashGarDak,” based on the principle that each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has an “opposite pole.” The “opposite pole” of aleph, the first letter, is the last letter, tav. The opposite pole of bet is shin, the second-to-last letter, and so on. For example, if you were to encode the Hebrew word Aba (father, aleph-bet-aleph) into AtBashGarDak, you would get the sequence tav-shin-tav.

There is only one word in the Hebrew language whose AtBashGarDak encoding comprises the same letters as the original, and that is the word kol (kaf-lamed in AtBashGarDak is lamed-kaf – the same letters mirrored.

Meir Panim teaches us that life’s “opposite poles” are a mirror image of each other. Most of us would much prefer to have only “easy” things in life, with none of the “difficult” things. The principle of kol teaches us that there is no easy and difficult but that they are mirror images of the same thing. As said in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 230:5) “Kol de’Avid Rachmana le’Tav Avid – Whatever Hashem does is for our benefit.”

If someone has this outlook on life, accepts the good together with the bad as all part of Hashem’s bounty, they are content with their portion in life – and this is the truly wealthy person.

This is the blessing that Hashem gave to Avraham, which he bequeathed to his son Yitzchak and then to his grandson, Yaakov. We have all inherited this character trait from them; it is a cornerstone of Am Yisrael – to always look at the half-full cup and be thankful to Hashem.

Parshat HaShavua Trivia Question: In selecting a burial spot for Sarah, Avraham chooses Me’arat HaMachpela. How did Avraham know that this place was special and was the intended burial place for the Forefathers and Mothers?

Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: When Avraham “negotiates” with Hashem to save Sodom, he cites numbers – 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10 … Why does Avraham stop at ten? Avraham learned from Noach. In the Ark were Noach and his wife, Noach’s three sons, and their wives – making a total of eight people. If Hashem did not save the world for less than ten people in the Flood, then there was no point in asking to save less than ten in Sodom.


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Eliezer Meir Saidel ([email protected]) is Managing Director of research institute Machon Lechem Hapanim and owner of the Jewish Baking Center which researches and bakes traditional Jewish historical and contemporary bread. His sefer “Meir Panim” is the first book dedicated entirely to the subject of the Lechem Hapanim.