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What Are We Struggling For? - The Weekly Shiur – Parashat Vayishlach 5780

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Translation be Yehosua Siskin

Welcome. This week’s Torah portion is parashat Vayishlach, in which we witness the meeting between Yaakov and Esav, which is really three conflicts in one.

Here’s a summary of the story up to this point: Yaakov and Esav are the twin sons of Yitzchak and Rivkah. They are different and in conflict with each other, even in their mother’s womb. Esav sell’s his privileged birthright and blessing, as the eldest son, to Yaakov for a pot of lentil soup. Yaakov receives the blessing, but then Esav seeks to kill him and causes him to flee to Charan. Yaakov builds himself up during his exile there, starting with the ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ dream (where Hashem promises him a glorious future), followed by his encounter with Rachel at the well, and then his fathering of a large family, all in the shadow of 20 years of back-breaking labor under the watchful eyes of the evil Lavan, his father-in-law. But now the time has come to return home to the Land of Israel, except that Esav is there. Leaving the Land of Israel is not easy, but returning is not easy either. What should Yaakov do?

This meeting between Yaakov and Esav is not only a physical meeting between the two, but also a meeting between the attitudes, spiritual forces and perspectives on life represented by Yaakov on the one hand and Esav on the other.

There are three conflicts that lie behind the meeting between these clashing forces and we need to understand them in order to prevail:

Conflict #1 – the differing fundamental attitudes of Yaakov and Esav that are revealed in the messages they exchange prior to meeting

Conflict #2 – the ideological or spiritual power struggle between them

Conflict #3 –the differing world views or perspectives of Yaakov and Esav going forward after the physical meeting of their two camps finally takes place

Let’s begin.

1. Fear of Sin Versus Exaggerated Self-Confidence;

“I deserve nothing” versus “I deserve everything”

It’s sufficient to look at the following verses to see the difference between the brothers. Yaakov adopts the following attitude:

וַיִּשְׁלַח יַעֲקֹב מַלְאָכִים לְפָנָיו אֶל עֵשָׂו אָחִיו אַרְצָה שֵׂעִיר שְׂדֵה אֱדוֹם

וַיְצַו אֹתָם לֵאמֹר כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן לַאדֹנִי לְעֵשָׂו כֹּה אָמַר עַבְדְּךָ יַעֲקֹב עִם לָבָן גַּרְתִּי וָאֵחַר עַד עָתָּה

וַיְהִי לִי שׁוֹר וַחֲמוֹר צֹאן וְעֶבֶד וְשִׁפְחָה וָאֶשְׁלְחָה לְהַגִּיד לַאדֹנִי לִמְצֹא חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ

Yaakov sent angels ahead of him to his brother Esav, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, “So shall you say to my master to Esav, 'Thus said your servant Yaakov, “I have sojourned with Lavan, and I have tarried until now.  And I have acquired oxen and donkeys, flocks, manservants, and maidservants, and I have sent to tell [this] to my master, to find favor in your eyes.' ” (Genesis 32:4-6)

Notice the words of Yaakov:  I am “your servant” and you are “my master.”

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּלְאָכִים אֶל יַעֲקֹב לֵאמֹר בָּאנוּ אֶל אָחִיךָ אֶל עֵשָׂו וְגַם הֹלֵךְ

 לִקְרָאתְךָ וְאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ עִמּוֹ

וַיִּירָא יַעֲקֹב מְאֹד וַיֵּצֶר לוֹ

The angels returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother, to Esau, and he is also coming toward you, and four hundred men are with him." Jacob became very frightened and was distressed.  (Genesis 32:7-8)

And the midrash comments: Yaakov became very frightened and said, “Oh no! Perhaps I will now suffer the consequences of my sin.”

Yaakov Avinu does not fear being afraid. He is not afraid to say that he’s afraid. But what does he fear? He fears sin. Our national hero is not cool or macho and not full of self-confidence. He is the opposite of this. He fears sin.

And notice that this is connected to the merit of our claim on Eretz Yisrael.  When does Yaakov speak about fear of sin?  Upon entering Eretz Yisrael. We can speak about sovereignty, nationalism, the IDF – it’s all true – but our right to the Land also depends on the spiritual level of Am Yisrael, of Avraham Avinu’s children.

וַיַּחַץ אֶת הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וְאֶת הַצֹּאן וְאֶת הַבָּקָר וְהַגְּמַלִּים לִשְׁנֵי מַחֲנוֹת

וַיֹּאמֶר אִם יָבוֹא עֵשָׂו אֶל הַמַּחֲנֶה הָאַחַת וְהִכָּהוּ וְהָיָה הַמַּחֲנֶה הַנִּשְׁאָר לִפְלֵיטָה

So he divided the people who were with him and the flocks and the cattle and the camels into two camps. And he said, "If Esau comes to one camp and strikes it down, the remaining camp will escape." (Genesis 32:8-9)

Even if a small remnant (“the remaining camp”) is left, that will be sufficient and good.  And so writes Rebbe Nachman from Breslav on the hidden meaning of this verse:

“When we see that it is difficult to find a complete solution to a problem that we face, it makes sense to settle for half a solution so that, in any case, there will be ‘a remaining camp’ for us, and hope will not be completely lost, heaven forbid. That is, when a person sees his evil inclination prevailing over him, and the more it prevails the more it seems to him that he has no strength to properly stand against it, and all the advice and schemes and proposed solutions do not work out, then his main recourse is to finally rely on the power of the tzadik.  However, at the present moment, he needs to at least find a half-way or partial solution, in the sense of ‘and he divided the people . . .and the remaining camp will escape.’  That is, he will fix in his heart that, no matter what happens, he will say ‘I am strong and I will not retreat completely from Hashem may He be blessed, and I will never despair. I will continue to keep watch and grab whatever I can, so that ‘the remaining camp will escape.’  For example, when a person desires to learn much and pray and to immerse himself in solitude, and he has difficulty achieving any of these objectives, he should strengthen himself with the thought that ‘when it comes to grabbing whatever I can in this life, I will toil with all my strength to grab some goodness every day.’”

What Rav Nachman is telling us is this: You are not a tzadik like Yaakov Avinu? Relax, even Yaakov Avinu himself knew that “a little is also good,” that we need to grab what we can, the main thing is to say connected to the big thing, even if only in part. The main thing is not to disconnect from it completely – to be happy about washing a few of the dishes in the sink, to find success in having a meaningful conversation with your children on any given evening, even if the conversation is only with some, but not all, of them.

Rav Nachman writes about someone who wants to study and pray perfectly all the time, without success. What’s the solution? Not to stop trying, even if it means resolving to achieve partial success, to endeavor to just grab something small, to learn a drop, to pray a little. It’s better to arrive late to a Torah class or attend only once in a while than not to come at all until the perfect situation presents itself. Rav Nachman returns again and again to the word “to grab,” and its seems to me that in our speedy technological age, this approach is especially sensible.  Even if you don’t have all the time in the world to begin from the beginning and to learn something thoroughly, grab a little. This is a soothing piece of advice.

And now: prayer. But not just any prayer, rather “I have become small’:

וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֱלֹהֵי אָבִי אַבְרָהָם וֵאלֹהֵי אָבִי יִצְחָק ה' הָאֹמֵר אֵלַי שׁוּב לְאַרְצְךָ וּלְמוֹלַדְתְּךָ וְאֵיטִיבָה עִמָּךְ

קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל הָאֱמֶת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתָ אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ כִּי בְמַקְלִי עָבַרְתִּי אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן הַזֶּה וְעַתָּה הָיִיתִי לִשְׁנֵי מַחֲנוֹת

הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי מִיַּד עֵשָׂו כִּי יָרֵא אָנֹכִי אֹתוֹ פֶּן יָבוֹא וְהִכַּנִי אֵם עַל בָּנִים

And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord, Who said to me, 'Return to your land and to your birthplace, and I will do good to you.' I have become small from all the kindnesses and from all the truth that You have rendered Your servant, for with my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Now deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him, lest he come and strike me, [and strike] a mother with children. (Genesis 32:10-12)

Yaakov prepares a gift for Esav, a show of wealth, that will satisfy his eyes:

וַיִּתֵּן בְּיַד עֲבָדָיו עֵדֶר עֵדֶר לְבַדּוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל עֲבָדָיו עִבְרוּ לְפָנַי וְרֶוַח תָּשִׂימוּ בֵּין עֵדֶר וּבֵין עֵדֶר.

And he gave into the hands of his servants each herd individually, and he said to his servants, "Pass on ahead of me and make a space between one herd and another herd." (Genesis 32:17)

Rashi comments on “and make a space”: One herd before the next [within] the distance the eye can see, in order to satisfy the eye of the wicked man and bewilder him with the enormity of the gift.

In other words, what satisfied the eye of Esav the evildoer? Nothing. Air. Wind. Empty space. A scenario that has no reality to it but nevertheless takes up space and fools people. This is what the entire advertising business and image building industry is all about, “empty space” that satisfies the incurious eye.

Therefore we cover our eyes when we say the shema, in order to remind ourselves that even tangible reality is full of empty space and a lot of nothing, that even physical reality that is right in front of our eyes is a source of confusion.

Esav advances with 400 men, bristling with hatred, brute force, and readiness for war, when opposite him comes Yaakov with an attitude of smallness, lack of worth, and gratitude for every little thing.

Each of them expresses his situation differently.  Yaakov says “I have everything,” (making due with little, happy with what he has, whatever I have is everything as far as I’m concerned, it’s enough for me) while Esav says “I have a lot” (but I could have a lot more, and more, and more).

Precisely regarding this matter, I received an emotional letter this week from a bachelor, as follows:

“My name is . . . and study in university . . . and I am reaching out to you in order to bring up a central problem for me and many of my bachelor friends: the illusion of many choices, of many possibilities, that makes it difficult to establish a serious connection and to focus on one person.  I would be happy if you would read this letter in one of your classes, only without mentioning my name and what I am studying.  So here it is:  in this week’s Torah portion, Esav pushes away the gifts offered to him: ‘And Esav said ‘I have plenty.’  Yet Yaakov answers him: ‘Take my gift because G-d has favored me and I have everything.’  Here are two different perspectives to choose from: ‘what I have is a lot, but can be a lot more’ or ‘I have everything.’ And, similarly, regarding the subject that pains me: I’m on one date but am thinking ‘there are a lot more’ dates I can go on – as opposed to deciding that ‘I have everything,’ that this will be my wife, with all her good qualities and deficiencies, too.  With her I want to go forward.  And after I choose her, I recognize that this is the best I could have done.  I have everything.  I do not need anything else.

Lately, I have been doing some soul searching, checking myself, and taking all my options into account, including whether I want to start calculating electricity accounts with my wife in a rented apartment . . . and I reached the conclusion that the fact that I live in a society in which there are so many potential wives is a problem.  She could be the right one, but she, too, and she as well and her twin sister, too, and her best friend, too. This creates horrible confusion and a huge mess. This past Shabbat  was an organizational meeting of Bnei Akiva. The name of the new tribe is “Generations.”  If they were to grant a new name to Bnei Akiva alumni, including me, I suspect the name I would suggest would be “Pits.” For a long time I have wanted to settle down with a family and a start a home, to establish my link in the glorious chain of Am Yisrael, but I am stuck deep in a pit. And the pit is empty, without water. As stated, I am always checking myself. I am serious and take seriously every suggestion about moving forward in the right direction, and I wait with genuine expectation of marriage, family, and home. But my scattered mind does not allow this to happen. This is not my problem alone but, in my opinion, has a collective, cultural, and social dimension. I have spoken with many people about this.  Could you raise this issue with the general public and put it at the top of our daily agenda?  This is not about suggesting another possible shiduch, because the proliferation of opportunities only complicates the matter and further entangles us in the spider’s web. I pray for myself and others that all of us will transition from a condition of ‘I have a lot’ to ‘I have everything.’”

Amen. Thank you. I’ll be glad to hear from other men and women as to whether they agree with this point of view.

But let’s put aside this difficulty of forming lasting relationships and go back to the relationship between Yaakov and Esav. Let’s continue to the second aspect of the meeting between them and their perspectives, and the open conflict that ensues.

2. Light versus Darkness, Israel versus Evil

Before the actual physical meeting between them, there is a spiritual battle between their two world views. As our sages have said: “The Holy One Blessed be He does not settle accounts with any nation until He first settles accounts with its gods.”  First there must be a spiritual, ideological struggle.

וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר

וַיַּרְא כִּי לֹא יָכֹל לוֹ וַיִּגַּע בְּכַף יְרֵכוֹ וַתֵּקַע כַּף יֶרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב בְּהֵאָבְקוֹ עִמּוֹ

וַיֹּאמֶר שַׁלְּחֵנִי כִּי עָלָה הַשָּׁחַר וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ כִּי אִם בֵּרַכְתָּנִי

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מַה שְּׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב

וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ כִּי אִם יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי שָׂרִיתָ עִם אֱלֹהִים וְעִם אֲנָשִׁים וַתּוּכָל

וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה נָּא שְׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ שָׁם.

And Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his hip, and the socket of Jacob's hip became dislocated as he wrestled with him. And he (the angel) said, "Let me go, for dawn is breaking," but he (Jacob) said, "I will not let you go unless you have blessed me." So he said to him, "What is your name?" and he said, "Jacob." And he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed." And Jacob asked and said, "Now tell me your name," and he said, "Why is it that you ask for my name?" And he blessed him there. (Genesis 32:25-30)

Evil arrives and puts up a struggle, but is forced to slink away with the morning light and also to give a blessing with a new name.  This struggle is difficult but we survive it and even thrive within it, receiving a new name and a new essence in the process. We are injured and limping but we survive. In all the exiles until today we have paid a steep and painful price. But even while suffering terrible wounds, we have not disappeared, we have not been vanquished.

Notice that Yaakov’s name change comes from an evil force.  Evil, in all its honor and power and glory, is forced to admit that we are Yisrael, with the straightforwardness that being blessed with this name implies, that we walk in a straight path with Hashem. And who or what is this evil exactly?  He has no permanent name (“Why is it that you ask for my name?”): sometimes evil is sadness, sometimes depression, sometimes lust, sometimes pride, and sometimes anger.  Each time it has a different name.  The evil inclination changes its disguise time and again.

There are numerous commentaries on this meeting but I chose a new one, truly contemporary, from Ehud Banai. The grandfather of Ehud’s grandfather, whose name was Yaakov, came to Israel from Shiraz, in Persia, in the late 19th century, together with his wife, children and grandchildren.  Ehud’s father, also named Yaakov, after growing up observant, joined a secular Zionist youth movement, and allowed his observance to lapse. “Here I am today,” writes Ehud, “a son of Yaakov, searching, like him, for a way to renew the connection with Yaakov my ancient father, and with Yaakov, my grandfather’s grandfather. In exile, of all places, when our people were in faraway lands cut off from one another, without any fax or Internet, it was the Torah and the prayer book that united Am Yisrael.

Today, when the common denominator of Torah and prayer is lacking among us, we are discovering, the hard way, that sitting on one piece of land together and paying taxes together to the same Jewish government does not transform us into one people.

Something very deep is lacking in our outlook on life.  Somewhere deep in our genes there is something else that must be expressed.  Israeli society surely knows that dwelling on the land of Eretz Yisrael comes with certain conditions. There is a contract here between tenant and Landlord that must be honored.”

We have seen the preparations made by Yaakov and Esav for their meeting and we have witnessed the spiritual encounter of the two opposing forces and the battle between them. Now we will examine the physical meeting itself.

3. “And I will move at my own slow pace” versus “Gotta-Have-It-Now”

The conclusion of the story is (spoiler alert): There is no reason for us to walk together. Our conflict will not resolve itself, the struggle will continue.  But let’s take a look at what happens during the meeting itself:

וַיִּשָּׂא יַעֲקֹב עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה עֵשָׂו בָּא וְעִמּוֹ אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת אִישׁ וַיַּחַץ אֶת הַיְלָדִים עַל לֵאָה וְעַל רָחֵל וְעַל שְׁתֵּי הַשְּׁפָחוֹת

וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת הַשְּׁפָחוֹת וְאֶת יַלְדֵיהֶן רִאשֹׁנָה וְאֶת לֵאָה וִילָדֶיהָ אַחֲרֹנִים וְאֶת רָחֵל וְאֶת יוֹסֵף אַחֲרֹנִים

וְהוּא עָבַר לִפְנֵיהֶם וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אַרְצָה שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים עַד גִּשְׁתּוֹ עַד אָחִיו

וַיָּרָץ עֵשָׂו לִקְרָאתוֹ וַיְחַבְּקֵהוּ וַיִּפֹּל עַל צַוָּארָו וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ וַיִּבְכּוּ

וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא אֶת הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת הַיְלָדִים וַיֹּאמֶר מִי אֵלֶּה לָּךְ וַיֹּאמַר הַיְלָדִים אֲשֶׁר חָנַן אֱלֹהִים אֶת עַבְדֶּךָ

Yaakov lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, Esav was coming, and with him were four hundred men; so he divided the children with Leah and with Rachel and with the two maidservants. And he placed the maidservants and their children first and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and her Yosef last. And he went ahead of them and prostrated himself to the ground seven times, until he came close to his brother. And Esav ran toward him and embraced him, and he fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and he said, "Who are these to you?" And he said, "The children with whom G-d has favored your servant." (Genesis 33:1-5)

This is a continuation of the approach that we saw previously – Yaakov bows seven times, and when he is asked “Who are these?” he answers: “The children with whom G-d has favored your servant.” Again – these are not mine, thank G-d for everything I have been given, nothing belongs to me and nothing should be taken for granted.

But what is new about this meeting is something else.  We learned about the differences between Yaakov and Esav from the beginning.  What is new is Esav’s request of Yaakov to accompany him in partnership and to travel together. Yaakov refuses but this is no ordinary refusal. He gives a reason which has been our classic reason from then until now and will be forever:

וַיֹּאמֶר (עשיו): נִסְעָה וְנֵלֵכָה וְאֵלְכָה לְנֶגְדֶּךָ

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו (יעקב): אֲדֹנִי יֹדֵעַ כִּי הַיְלָדִים רַכִּים וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר עָלוֹת עָלָי וּדְפָקוּם יוֹם אֶחָד וָמֵתוּ כָּל הַצֹּאן

Thereupon, he (Esav) said, "Travel and we will go, and I will go alongside you." And he (Yaakov) said to him, "My master knows that the children are tender, and the flocks and the cattle, which are raising their young, depend upon me, and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die.” (Genesis 33:12-13)

And then the crucial verse:

יַעֲבָר נָא אֲדֹנִי לִפְנֵי עַבְדּוֹ וַאֲנִי אֶתְנָהֲלָה לְאִטִּי לְרֶגֶל הַמְּלָאכָה אֲשֶׁר לְפָנַי וּלְרֶגֶל הַיְלָדִים עַד אֲשֶׁר אָבֹא אֶל אֲדֹנִי שֵׂעִירָה

Now, let my master (Esav) go ahead before his servant, and I (Yaakov) will move [at] my own slow pace, according to the pace of the work that is before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my master, to Seir." (Genesis 33:14)

Our sages, down through the ages, have wondered about the meaning of “the pace of the work... and the pace of the children.”

the work – of keeping Shabbatot and chagim, of keeping mitzvot, of learning Torah.

the children – the family, establishing a family and educating your children.

Yaakov, in essence, is saying: Esav, I am not quick like you and I am not embarrassed by that. “And I will move at my own slow pace” is an all-embracing perspective and outlook on life.

The gap between the pace of our ancestors who worked mostly in agriculture, where growth of crops takes time, and our own pace of work is huge and increasing. Similarly, the gap between our pace of work, which is more digital with each passing day, and the pace required to raise children properly, also increases.  A friend of mine who is an accountant told me:  “Raising children is the polar opposite of my work. I work with numbers and all the figures do what I tell them to do. I organize documents and I type reports. But how is it possible to compare preparing an accountant’s report with persuading a child to get in the shower? These are completely different matters that require completely different skills.”

Another friend, a computer programmer, told me something similar: “Home is the total opposite of work. All day long I give commands, write code, develop programs, talk to adults, and then suddenly, the minute I enter my home, I’m a kindergarden teacher.”

And I feel, as a journalist, the same thing – I am obligated to edit and shorten when what is needed is to have long conversations without thinking about headlines.

“I will move at my own slow pace” – words to live by for an entire lifetime.  Not everything that is new and sparkling should I be obligated to adopt; I am more doubtful and critical; I am slower than that.

I have noticed lately that Whatsapp users are increasingly begging to change their status to “I will move at my own slow pace,” that they do not want to be bothered all the time.

How long will this tension between Yaakov and Esav last? The commentators say – until the days of Moshiach.  In the end, Yaakov will overtake Esav.  Not to worry, we will not elevate the most brilliant, fastest, and up-to-date mode of living forever, but Yaakov (that is us, Am Yisrael)

will prevail on account of moderation, introspection, and reflection -- the pace of our work (keeping Shabbat, holidays, mitzvot, and learning Torah) and the pace of our children (family life and children’s education).

So Yaakov and Esav must ultimately separate because of the gaping abyss between them:

וַיָּשָׁב בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עֵשָׂו לְדַרְכּוֹ שֵׂעִירָה

וְיַעֲקֹב נָסַע סֻכֹּתָה וַיִּבֶן לוֹ בָּיִת וּלְמִקְנֵהוּ עָשָׂה סֻכֹּת עַל כֵּן קָרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם סֻכּוֹת

 וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בְּבֹאוֹ מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם וַיִּחַן אֶת פְּנֵי הָעִיר

So Esav returned on that day on his way to Seir. And Jacob traveled to Succoth and built himself a house, and for his cattle he made booths; therefore he named the place Succoth. And Jacob came safely [to] the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan aram, and he encamped before the city. (Genesis 33:16-18)

There was hope that perhaps Esav would join Yaakov. After all, Esav sees children, a beautiful family, values, proper behavior, perhaps this would have a beneficial effect on him? But he was not positively influenced and, baruch Hashem, Yaakov was not influenced negatively.  They simply parted ways.

This is our mission, the children of Yaakov Avinu. Yaakov returns to Eretz Yisrael with very clear messages and we need to incorporate them in managing our ongoing conflicts.

First, fear of sin should take precedence over exaggerated self-confidence. Don’t be afraid to be afraid, don’t be afraid to pray to overcome sin, and live with the attitude that we have enough.

Second, to remember that this is a spiritual struggle.  We need to strengthen our perspective on life, to reinforce it, and to examine how we are building ourselves up within this struggle.

Third, to remember that we could have gone with Esav, but our ideology is different, slower and more thorough.  This is the Jewish way and, in the end, is successful.  Look where the children of Yaakov and the children of Esav are today.

Next week, G-d willing, believe it or not, we will already be talking about Yosef and his brothers.  Until the next time… Lehitraot.


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