Torah thought forFriday 15 Kislev 5783 December 9 2022

Parashat Vayishlach - If You Are Truly “Happy With Your Lot” You Wouldn’t be Casting Your Beady Eyes on More!

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

This Shabbat we will read the encounter of Yaakov and Eisav, when Yaakov was petrified in case Eisav come “and kill us all – mothers and children alike” (Bereishit 32:12). But then something unbelievable happened, Eisav runs to greet him, “throwing himself on his shoulders, kissed him, they wept” (ibid. 33:4). Prior to that the gift which Yaakov sent to Eisav consisted of, “200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 nursing camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys” (ibid. 32:15-16), without a doubt a substantial gift. When finally Eisav asks Yaakov, “What do you have to do with that whole camp that came to greet me?” Yaakov responds, “It was to find favour in your eyes”. Eisav replies, “I have plenty, my brother, let what is yours remain yours”. Yet Yaakov persists and said to Eisav, “Please! No!...Please accept my welcome gift as it has been brought to you. Hashem has been kind to me and I have all [I need].” Eisav agrees and takes the gifts as it states, “He urged him and he took it” (ibid. 33:8-11).

If we reflect we will see that there is a distinction between Eisav’s and Yaakov’s words. Eisav says, “I have plenty”, meaning I have a lot but I’m still not content because this isn’t yet “everything” that I desire. In contrast, Yaakov says, “I have all [I need]”, meaning that Baruch Hashem I have “everything” that I want and even though it is possible to achieve more, I am happy with my lot and don’t yearn for more. Rather with what I have I feel that I have everything.

Therefore it states in Avot (4:1), Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot! I person who cultivates himself to be happy with what Hashem has gifted him and he has no jealousy or begrudging eyes towards others, then he is a true rich person who also merits to a healthier and more relaxed life.

A wise and intelligent king built an edifice in the city centre. A palatial and eye-catching palace. The king planted around the palace a magnificent garden of rare fruit tree, all types of roses spectacular in their beauty. Everyone who passed near the king’s garden would stop for a moment to behold the beauty and aroma of this stunning garden. After some time the king hung a huge sign at the palace gate, upon it was written, “The palace and the garden around it will be gifted by the king to the person who declares that he is ‘happy with his lot’”.

People passed by and saw the palace and the sign in front of it. Each one remembered their troubles and said, I with all my troubles am not “happy with my lot” and I am not entitled to such a wonderful palace.

After some time a very wealthy and respected man passed by, an employer of many, happy and living in luxury, lacking nothing, neither wealth nor honour, status nor family, he was amazed by the palace and the surrounding garden. When he read the sign hanging on the palace gate, he immediately said to himself, for who is this intended? To whom did the king intend if not me? I am lacking nothing and I am happy and joyous with what I own. For sure the palace is mine!

He requested an audience and came before the king. He bowed before him and told him of his tremendous wealth, his unique status and his magnificent family. “Hashem has been gracious to me and given me everything! I am ‘happy with my lot!’ I believe that the king should keep his word, to fulfil the passuk, ‘…be careful of your word and keep the pledge that you have vowed’ (Devarim 23:24). The king should immediately give me the palace and the encompassing garden for I meet the king’s conditions!”

“By your life,” said the king. “You big fool! If you are ‘happy with your lot’ as you claim, if so, why have you furnished your eyes on the palace and surrounding garden? According to your argument you are ‘happy with your lot’ and you shouldn’t covet other people’s money. If you desire the palace and the garden then you aren’t ‘happy with your lot’ and you don’t deserve this palace!”

“…that a wise one may hear and increase learning” (Mishlei 1:5).

Shabbat Shalom!