scholars, such as professor richard elliott friedman, point to the toldot torah portion with respect to the commandment prohibiting the use of god’s name in vain.
in toldot, isaac, deceived, erroneously blesses jacob. the blessing was intended for esau, isaac’s first born child. professor friedman essentially points out that, in biblical times, when you used god’s name, you can’t take it back. thus, despite the discovery of the deception, isaac does not take back the misdirected blessing.
the moments before the blessing reveal the seriousness of employing god’s name. isaac, who was blind at the time and having doubts as to who was present, makes an inquiry. genesis 27:18-27. he asks “who is present?” he asks “how the food was prepared so quickly?” he asks to feel jacob to confirm it was esau. he then asks jacob again whether he was esau. finally, he kisses and smells jacob for additional confirmation.
isaac, in evoking god’s name and providing the blessing, performed “due diligence.” he did his best to ascertain the situation. certainly, the master of the universe appreciated the efforts he took to ensure that he blessed the proper individual. at the time, with his limited senses, he did the best job he could.
again, one must appreciate isaac’s state of mind at that the time. he knew he was approaching the end of his life. he considered his blessing of his first born son as a pivitol life moment. isaac, arguably, felt both stressed and pressured to complete this necessary task. again, the torah portion reflects the gravity upon which the name of god was evoked. that, before evoking a blessing involving god, he made a serious inquiry to dispell both his doubts and his suspicions.
in sum, this tale is an example of how measures should be taken before the use of god’s name within the parameters of the commandment.