There are a number of lessons that Yaakov teaches us in this Parsha. The Torah tells us that when Yaakov heard that Esav was heading towards him, Yaakov became afraid. At first glance, this seems hard to comprehend, as Hashem promised Yaakov protection wherever he went. Did Yaakov doubt Hashem’s guarantee? Obviously Yaakov had unwavering belief (Emuna) in Hashem. Rather Yaakov doubted himself. He understood that Hashem’s promise was only under the condition that Yaakov remains meritorious to deserve this promise. Yaakov was concerned that he was not worthy of Hashem’s aid. This demonstrates Yaakov’s humility.
When Yaakov learned that Esav was approaching, Yaakov prepared to meet Esav in three ways. He prepared a gift to appease Esav, a prayer that Hashem should help him, and he prepared for war. Yaakov knew that man should make his own fight for survival and not rely solely on miracles. When problems arise, one should first try to solve them peacefully, as seen when Yaakov sent presents to Esav. At the same time, prayer is an essential aid during times of crisis. Finally, one should always prepare for the worst-case scenario, as seen when Yaakov prepares for war.
After the reunion between Yaakov and Esav, Esav urges Yaakov to stay and accompany him. Yaakov knew that it would be best to avoid his brother’s negative influence, so he declines the offer. This teaches a valuable lesson. One should always surround himself with a good Chevra, a good crowd, thus diminishing his chances of acting in a way that would make a Chillul Hashem, a desecration of Hashem’s name. When one is surrounded with a good Chevra, a great Kiddush Hashem, sanctification of Hashem’s name, can be made.
Thus Yaakov teaches us many valuable lessons in this week’s Parsha. He teaches us to be humble, he teaches us to try to solve our problems peacefully while at the same time prepare for the worst. He teaches us that prayer is an integral part of life, and he teaches us that one should hang around positive influences. If one can live by these attributes, one will become a better person and hopefully merit his share of the World to Come.