Yaakov's lesson: It's not all or nothing

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

What's preferable? A small, partial achievement or nothing at all.

When our father Jacob hears that Esau and 400 of his men are marching towards him, he becomes fearful. Therefore, he divides his people into two camps – if one of them is attacked, the other one will be saved. Yaakov here defines an important life principle: "If Esau comes to one camp and strikes it down, the remaining camp will escape." Rebbe Nachman from Breslav explains that Yaakov Avinu tried to save what he could and did not despair, a lesson we can learn as well:

If it is impossible to eat healthy food throughout the day, we do not have to give up on eating at least one healthy meal per day. If it is impossible to recite every prayer with complete focus, that does not mean we should stop trying to focus when we pray. It is better to always arrive late to a class or a regular group activity than never to go at all. Perfectionism, Rebbe Nachman explains, brings us to accept total victory alone, and that is dangerous. Yaakov Avinu teaches us to grab what we can, even if it's only a little.

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