This week’s Parashah tells the story of two brothers reunited – Yaakov and Eisav. However, with careful analysis of this reunion, we can see a specific Middah, trait, that Yaakov has but his brother Eisav does not. This is the Middah of “HaSamei’ach BeChelko” – being happy with one’s lot.
When Eisav approaches Yaakov for the first time in several years and sees his brother’s family lined up, Eisav says, “Yesh Li Rav; Achi, Yehi Lecha Asher Lach,” “ I have plenty; my brother, let what you have remain yours” (BeReishit 33:9). Nonetheless, Eisav eventually accepts his brother’s offers and tributes after Yaakov responds, “Kach Na Et Birchati Asher Huvata Lach, Ki Chanani Elokim VeChi Yesh Li Chol,” “Take my gift which I have brought to you, for Hashem has dealt kindly with me and because I have enough” (33:11).
At first glance Yaakov and Eisav seem to say the same thing — each has enough money and does not need gifts from the other. However, the Mefarshim elucidate a clear difference. The Keli Yakar writes that when Eisav says, “I have plenty,” he is saying, “I have plenty but I don’t have everything, and I want more.” On the other hand, Yaakov says the opposite. Yaakov acknowledges that Hashem has given him everything. He understands that Resha’im, wicked individuals, can have all the money in the world, but nevertheless feel as if they are missing something; conversely, Tzaddikim, righteous people, are satisfied with their possessions, even if they own very little, since Tzaddikim are able to view matters as if they own everything they need.
The Middah of HaSamei’ach BeChelko appears to be a fundamental difference between the already polar personalities of Eisav and Yaakov. While Eisav serves as an example of greed from which we should stray, Yaakov sets a paradigm of excellence, success, and happiness. He inspires us to live our lives being content with what Hashem provides us and to truly feel that we have it all.
-Adapted from Sefer Imrei Baruch by Rav Baruch Simen