11/14/2013

Shabbat Vayishlach

Candles Friday 15th at 4:17pm
Havdalah 16th at 5:12pm

Yaakov is coming back home with his wives, children and wealth but is frightened of what his brother Esav will do. The last contact he had with him, Esav threatened to kill him as soon as his father Yitschak had died and Yitschak is still, amazingly, alive. But he had nowhere else to go. He could not turn back to Lavan. And when he hears that Esav is coming towards him with 400 men, hardly a welcoming party, more like a war party, he is terrified. Not just for himself but for his wives and children.

That night we see Yaakov on the East bank of the river Yabok having moved all his family and goods across towards the West Bank. The Midrash says that he was just collecting a few left behind pots and pans and this shows how important it is not to waste things, not to take even the smallest material things for granted. But there is another Midrash that says that Yaakov was inclined to flee until the Angel fought with him and persuaded him to stand his ground.

We all face at some stage a crisis, whether it is personal, in business or in school and the problems seem insurmountable. Our natural tendency is to avoid pain and run away or pretend there is no problem at all. Here the message is clear. Do not run away. Face up to them. We are not of Yaakov’s greatness but we should try nevertheless.