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B"H

Shalom and Bracha!

This Shabbat we read the portion of Vayishlach. Two weeks ago we read about Yaakov receiving the blessings that would have otherwise gone to his brother Esav, thereby arousing Esav’s wrath. At the conclusion of last week’s portion, Yaakov was returning to the land of Israel from Charan, accompanied by his family and acquired wealth. In the beginning of this week’s portion Yaakov sent messengers to Esav to greet him. The messengers informed him that Esav was coming with four hundred troops to attack him.

Upon hearing this, Yaakov split his camp and animals into two groups, saying that “If Esav will attack one camp, the second will be saved.” Thereafter he prayed to Hashem to save him in the merit of his forefathers and to remember His promises to Yaakov to protect him. With Hashem’s help, Esav accepted the present and reconciled with Yaakov.

Seemingly, Yaakov’s preparations demand a deeper explanation. Why did he first divide his camp and only thereafter pray? Further, how was he positive that if one camp were destroyed the other would remain? Esav was approaching with four hundred men! Further, did he leave some of his children in one camp as he joined the second?

Yaakov had been told by Hashem to return to Israel and that Hashem would bless him there. He knew that the future of Torah was dependent upon him and his seed. He had great faith in Hashem’s blessing. He feared, however, that perhaps his great wealth and stature had interfered with his connection to Hashem. When Yaakov divided his camp, he put all of his wealth and servants in one camp, and his family in the other. He prayed only for his family. Once he separated himself from his wealth, he was sure that the remaining camp would be secure. Sometimes we are faced with difficult choices. Our advancement in wealth and social status are pitted against our families or our service of Hashem. We must learn from Yaakov that wealth is only a tool to serve Hashem and enhance our family lives.

The Torah concludes the saga of Esav that Yaakov continued in peace and “complete.” Rashi explains that all that he had given Esav as a present was replenished. This teaches us that by placing Hashem and family first, Hashem guards our possessions as well.

Yaakov parted with Esav with the assurance that he would meet him at mount Seir. Rashi explains that this will be when Moshiach comes, as we say in the daily prayers “Redeemers will ascend mount Zion to judge the mount of Esav and Hashem will rule as King.” May we merit his coming immediately!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated in memory of Yaakov Hakimian. May Hashem grant him perfect bliss in Gan Eden and comfort and guard his family. Our mother Rachel passes in this portion a young and tragic passing. Rashi explains that her (seemingly) untimely passing and burial was a necessary prerequisite to the Geulah. May we speedily see the same in this tragedy.

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