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   by Jacob Solomon

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PARASHA VAYISLACH 5777 - D'VAR TORAH


Within the first anxious moments where the brothers unite, Jacob presents Esau with a large gift. Esau initially refuses, with:

"I have a lotů let what you have remain yours" (33:9). "I have lot" according to Rashi is an expression of haughtiness, of boasting. He contrasts Jacob's reply, at a different register:

"Please take my gift which comes to you for G-d has favored me and I have everything." (33:11)

With "for God has favored me, and I have everything", he emphasizes that materially he is totally satisfied. Jacob has what he needs to take care of his requirements and he wants nothing more. As Ben Zoma puts if: "Who is rich? The person who is happy with what he has" (Avot 4:1).

The Kli Yakar deepens this concept though two observations in Kohelet, both of which speak of the individual's capacity to enjoy wealth.

"Whoever G-d has given riches and possessions, and has given him the power to enjoy them - that is the gift from G-d" (Eccl. 5:18).

In contrast:

"I have observed an evil: a person who G-d has given riches, wealth, and honorů yet G-d did not give him the power to enjoy it" (ibid. 6:1-2).

The Kli Yakar explains G-d helps good people towards the frame of mind where they are happy with what they have. This is what Jacob meant in telling Esau: "for G-d has favored me, and I have everything", meaning "He gave me the capacity to enjoy all that I have".

The reverse applies to those less generously disposed: "I have a lot", can mean "I do have a lot, but I do not have everything I want." Such a mind-frame comes from negative materialism, where "G-d will not give him the power to enjoy it". Thus Esau wanted more; he demonstrated the social art of refusing a gift without losing it: [Jacob] "persuaded him to take it, and he took it" (33:11).

In the Grace after Meals, we ask G-d to bless us as He blessed our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob "bakol mikol ko" - "in everything, from everything, everything". This is based on:

1. G-d had blessed Abraham "bakol" - "in everything" (24:1).

2. He brought [the venison] it to me, and I ate "mikol" - "from everything" (27:33).

3. Please take my gift which comes to you for G-d favored me (Jacob) and I have "kol" "everything" (33:11)

Thus a deeper meaning of the words: "bakol mikol kol" - "in everything, from everything, everything" is that we pray to G-d after a meal to give us according to our needs, and that we may enjoy what we have to the fullest, without pangs of greed for what we do not possess. That effectively is possessing everything As our Fathers were blessed and were happy with what they had, "so may He bless all of us" and enable us to be happy with what we do have.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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