In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vayishlach, Jacob and his brother, Esau, whom he has not seen in many years, have a fateful reunion. After decades of uneasy tension between the two, Jacob wishes to reconcile with his brother. He is currently returning to his ancestral homeland of Canaan from Charan (present day Turkey). Jacob’s first attempt at reconciliation is sending Esau the generous gift of a flock of animals. Esau declines this offer saying, “I have plenty…let what you have remain yours.” To which Jacob responds, “...I have everything.” (Genesis 33:9-11).
There is a world of difference between Jacob and Esau’s understanding of wealth. Esau, a selfish person caring only about his materialistic possessions, proclaimed that he had plenty because "plenty" is quantitative. If he were ever to lose his material possessions, then he would be plentiful no more. However, Jacob, who had his entire family with him, proudly declared, "I have everything." To Jacob, wealth is not dependent on financial or material possessions, rather on immeasurable, irreplaceable things that can’t be purchased, such as health, family, and friends. They are essentially unquantifiable items, yet if a person has them, they have everything.
The night of Jacob’s reunion with Esau, he also wrestles with a man, who is thought to have been an angel of Esau. Jacob is left with a broken hip after this night. The message of the story is certainly real and applicable; siblings fight and these fights often lead to injuries, whether physical or emotional. In our region, each and every one of us are siblings. While we may live in different homes and belong to different chapters, we are all part of the GJHRR family. Each one of us must remember that we are part of a bigger and greater movement that goes way beyond ourselves and those around us. While rivalries, competitions, or events temporarily pit us against each other for fun, families must always stick together and remember to spread love, kindness and warmth to each other.
GJHRR Shlichim Baylee Sessler and Sydney Cohn
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