Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

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Parshat Vayishlach 5782
Rabbi Jablinowitz

We read in this week’s parsha about the encounter between Yaakov and Eisav. Yaakov was very concerned about his reunion with Eisav and prepared for different possibilities (see Rashi on Chapter 32, Pasuk 9). In the end, Eisav is appeased by Yaakov’s show of deference to him (see the Ramban on Pasuk 8), and Yaakov’s worst fears weren’t realized at all.

Though there was no physical confrontation with Eisav as was feared, we read in the parsha about a much more subtle, underlying confrontation taking place. The meeting between the two brothers exposes a significant difference in outlook and ideology. When Yaakov offers Eisav the extensive gift he prepared for him, Eisav replies he has no need for it (Chapter 33, Pasuk 9), יש לי רב. Yaakov, in contrast, tells Eisav in Pasuk 11, וכי יש לי כל. Yaakov the Tzadik expresses the notion that he has everything and isn’t missing anything. Eisav, however, indicates that he doesn’t have just what he needs; he has even more.

The Torah is revealing to us a fundamental difference in attitude towards achieving wealth and physical possessions in this world. We are meant to imitate the way of the Tzadik, only looking for that which is necessary. Otherwise, we can end up on an endless pursuit of trying to attain more and more physical wealth. Eisav said יש לי רב; I have a lot and there is no end to a lot. One ends up constantly searching for further wealth. The words of Yaakov, יש לי כל, put a cap on matters; there is nothing more than Kol.

Nonetheless, the Sfas Emes asks a question on our critique of Eisav. What’s wrong with what Eisav said? Presumably, he was telling the truth; he had more than he actually needed. He didn’t have Kol, he had Rav!

The answer is, that the fundamental difference between Yaakov and Eisav in this war of ideologies, is how does one view himself and his accomplishments. If one considers himself small and insignificant, he will receive what he needs, as the pasuk says (Tehillim, Chapter 34, Pasuk 10), כי אין מחסור ליראיו. The Gd fearing Jew is never lacking. But he doesn’t receive more than he needs; there is no point. The bracha we receive from Hashem is a subtle bracha we don’t always see or realize, but ultimately our needs are taken care of. And as long as we see ourselves as lacking, we are candidates to receive. The criterion to receive is to remain a vessel which needs to be filled; a כלי מחזיק ברכה.

But if one considers himself as being quite wealthy and successful, he won’t receive anything further from Hashem. He has clearly indicated he doesn’t need it. His barometer for wealth is in his amassing toys in this world, so he clearly indicates he has no need for anything more from Hashem.

The pasuk says (Tehillim, Chapter 31, Pasuk 20), מה רב טובך אשר צפנת ליראיך, the good which is given to the Gd-fearing Jew is called אשר צפנת, it is hidden. The good we receive is not measured in size, like a big car or a big house, rather it is the subtle blessings we truly need from Hashem and which we require. When Eisav looked around himself and said, hey I’ve got a lot, he wasn’t looking at what he needed and at what really matters.

The deeper meaning behind the idea that the Tzadik sees himself as lacking is that we don’t perform good deeds to accrue credit; we do it to increase כבוד שמים. As a result, we need to constantly see ourselves as lacking and not deserving. A good parent who cares for their child doesn’t consider himself unique in that regard; he or she was just fulfilling their parental duties. Similarly, we don’t expect to cut the coupons of מצוות ומעשים טובים; that was something we needed to do as part of our relationship with Hashem. Therefore, we consider ourselves as lacking and needing bracha from Hashem.

This war of ideologies was already predicted before the births of Yaakov and Eisav. When Rivka is overwhelmed during pregnancy, she searches out an answer in the Beis Medrash of Shem. It is then that she is told she has two warring nations in her womb, but (Chapter 25, Pasuk 23), רב יעבוד צעיר. The ideology of יש לי רב, of looking at physical wealth and puffing out the stomach and seeing one’s self as worthy, will be subservient to the צעיר. The צעיר is the one who is humble and sees himself as lacking and wants the true, hidden gifts from Hashem, and eschews the huge and grotesque physical rewards of עולם הזה.

Good Shabbos

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