From the Writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook by Rabbi Chanan Morrison
The Blessing of a Scholar’s Presence
Adapted from Ein Ayah vol. II, pp. 187-8
After working at Laban’s ranch for 14 years, Yaakov was anxious to return home, to the Land of Israel. Lavan, however, was not eager to let his nephew go. “I have observed the signs”, he told Yaakov, “and God has blessed me for your sake” (B’reishit 30:27).
The Talmud (B’rachot 42a) points out that Lavan’s good fortune was not due only to Yaakov’s industriousness and hard work. “Blessing comes in the wake of a Torah scholar,” the Sages taught. The very presence of a saintly scholar brings with it blessings of success and wealth.
Yet, this phenomenon seems unfair. Why should a person be blessed just because he was in the proximity of a Torah scholar?
The Influence of a Tzadik
To answer this question, we must understand the nature of a tzadik and his profound impact on those around him. The presence of a Torah scholar will inspire even a morally corrupt individual to limit his destructive acts. As a result of this positive influence, material benefits will not be abused, and divine blessings will be utilized appropriately. Such an individual, by virtue of a refining influence, has become an appropriate recipient for God’s blessings.
In addition to the case of Lavan and Yaakov, the Talmud notes a second example of “Blessing coming in the wake of a Torah scholar”. The Torah relates that the prosperity of the Egyptian officer Potifar was in Yosef’s merit (B’reishit 39:5). In some aspects, this case is more remarkable.
Unlike Lavan, Potifar was not even aware of the source of his good fortune. Nonetheless, Yosef’s presence helped raise the ethical level of the Egyptian’s household, making it more suitable to receive God’s blessings.
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