Veiled Blessings

Rabbi Wagensberg
Parshas Chayei Sara
Veiled Blessings

After Rivka agreed to go with Eliezar and become Yitzchak's wife, Lavan blessed her with the words "Achoseinu At Hayi L'alfie Revava" (our sister, may you come to be thousands of myriads). This bracha that they gave to Rivka has made its way into Jewish tradition and into Jewish ceremony. Before a groom gets married to his bride, he must see her, in order to ensure that she is pleasing in his eyes. It is then that the Chasan covers the face of the kallah with a veil. Then, the bride is blessed with this very blessing "Achoseinu At Hayi L'alfie Revava."

The reason why we cover her face with a vail is in order to awaken the holiness of Rivka Imeinu onto the bride, because we find that Rivka also covered her face with a veil right before she got married to Yitzchak. Once we instill the holy energy of Rivka into the bride, we then bless her with the very blessing that Rivka was blessed with.

It is difficult to understand why we turn to Lavan, a wicked person, in order to draw this blessing for every Jewish bride. Is there some sort of shortage of righteous people's blessings that we have to turn to a wicked person? Do we have only one blessing in Jewish literature?

The Midrash says that the reason Rivka was barren for so many years was so that the idolaters won't say to the Jewish people "You owe us one." It is because of our blessing that you came into being." Therefore, Rivka was barren for so many years, and only after Yitzchak prayed for her did she have a child. We see from this that Lavan's blessing caused problems. So why do we take Lavan's blessing for every bride? Who knows what kind of damage we could be causing.

There are several approaches in understanding what we are trying to say with the kallah with this blessing.

Number one:

The Chasam Sofer points to a Gemara that says that most children are similar to the mother's brother. This is because brothers and sisters share the same mazal even if they were born at different times of the year. Lavan said, "You are MY sister. Therefore, most of your children will be like me, wicked. Therefore, you should be blessed with thousands and myriads of children who will be wicked just like me."

However, we are the descendants of Yaakov Avinu. We utilize the bracha to our advantage. All Jews belong to a verse that says we are all righteous people. Therefore, we say wisely bless all Jewish brides, "Achoseinu" you are our sister, the sister of righteous people. And most of your children will be like us. Therefore, you should be blessed with thousands of myriads. Basically, we took the "blessing" of Lavan and transformed it into something good.

Number two:

The Chasan Sofer points to a Gemara in Yevamos which teaches that the Shechina, (Divine Presence) rests on the Jewish people only if there are at least 22,000 Jews alive at the same time. Therefore, we bless every bride to participate in having children which will help reach or maintain the number 22,000 (revava are myriads which are 20,000, and alphei are thousands which are 2,000). In this way, the bride will merit having Shechina rest on her and her home.

Number three:

The Keren L'Dovid adds that once the bride is covered with the Shechina she will have every kind of bracha imaginable.

Parenthetically, this reveals the meaning behind the blessings parents give to children. Yaakov Avinu set the pace by saying that all children should be blessed to be like Efraim and Menashe. Moshe Rabeinu blessed Efraim and Menashe to be "myriads and thousands." This means that Moshe Rabbenu connected the number 22,000 to Efraim and Menashe. By definition this means that Moshe blessed Efraim and Menashe with the Shechina. Therefore, by blessing our children to be like Efraim and Menaseh we are blessing them with the Shechina, and all possible blessings.

Number four:

The reason why we bless the bride with this blessing specifically right before she enters underneath the Chupah is because the Gemarah says it is as difficult to make a match as it is to part the waters of Yam Suf. The comparison between a marriage and Kriyas Yam Suf is that there was a prosecution against the Jewish people to not let them go through because they were idolaters. Similarly, there was a prosecution against every Jewish couple so that the marriage should not go through.

The prosecuting attorneys are Mazikin. (destructive forces, damaging forces) The Gemara says that every person has 10,000 Mazikin on his right side and 1,000 Mazikin on his left side. In order to be mavetal (nullify) these 11,000 Mazikin, we will use a method of Chad betray (1 in 2). Therefore, we would need 20,000 Jews in order to be Mevatel the 10,000 Mazikin and we would need 2,000 Jews to be mevatel the 1,000 Mazikin. This is why we need 22,000 Jews for there to be Shechina. Once the 22,000 Jews get rid of the 11,000 Mazikin, it provides a kosher place for the Shechina to rest in. This explains why we bless a bride with this blessing right before she goes to the chuppah. It is because at that time, there are 11,000 Mazikin trying to prevent the marriage from going through. So, we bless her to be a participant in bringing children into the world, which either reaches the number 22,000 or maintains that number. This removes all Mazikin and subsequently causes the Shechina rest on her.

This is why Yaakov blessed Efraim and Menashe by crisscrossing his hands, putting his right hand on Efraim and his left hand on Menashe. This meant that Efraim represents the right side, and Efraim the left. Since there are 10,000 Mazikin on the right side, Moshe blessed Efraim with myriads (20,000) in order to be mevatel the 10,000. This is also why Moshe blessed Menashe with thousands (2,000) in order to be mevatel the 1,000.

Number five:

Since Eliezar was involved in bringing the Yitzchak and Rivka together, the energy of their child Ya'akov began filtering into the world. Ya'akov's energy is like that of Shabbos. On Shabbos, even the bad angel says "Amen" to the blessing of the good angel. This is because Shabbos observance has the power to transform bad into good.

This is why Lavan suddenly blessed Rivka when she went to marry Yitzchak, even though she was going to produce the Jewish people whose values Lavan despised. It is because Lavan had a spiritual moment. He was effected by Ya'akov's energy and was transformed into a Tzaddik, albiet, temporarily.

Therefore, we bless every bride with this bracha with the intention that all Mazikin in her life be transformed into friends who will help achieve her goals.

May we all be blessed to bless every bride, our children, and everybody for that matter, with this blessing, concentrating on its various meanings, in order to make a huge impact on improving all of our lives.