Why Wait? by Avi Roth


In Parashat VaYishlach, Ya’akov finally reunites with his older brother Eisav. In preparation for this encounter, Ya’akov does three things, including, “VaYachatz Et HaAm Asher Ito VeEt HaTzon VeEt HaBakar VeHaGemalim LiShenei Machanot,” “And Ya’akov divided the people that were with him, and the flocks, and the herds, and the camels, into two camps” (BeReishit 32:8). Ya’akov Avinu was worried about his family and possessions; therefore, he made sure that he would be able to preserve at least half of his family and possessions. After Ya’akov Avinu reunites with Eisav, Eisav wants he and Ya’akov to begin traveling together. However, Ya’akov declines because, “Adoni Yodei’a Ki HaYeladim Rakim VeHaTzon VeHaBakar Alot Alay UDefakum Yom Echad VaMeitu Kol HaTzon,” “My master knows that the children are tender, and the flocks and the cattle, which are raising their young, depend upon me, and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die” (33:13). Ya’akov Avinu had just risked his animals, his family, and himself to reunite with his brother. Eisav subsequently forgives him and wants Ya’akov to stay with him. Why was Ya’akov so worried about his sheep that he would give up the opportunity to stay with his brother?

Ya’akov Avinu learned to meticulously take care of his possessions from his grandfather, Avraham Avinu. After helping the five kings defeat the four kings (14:15), the King of Sedom wanted to give Avraham possessions (14:21). Surprisingly, Avraham turned the offer down, not even willing to accept a shoelace (14:23). Rashi (ad. loc s.v VeLo Tomar Ani He’esharti Et Avram) explains that Avraham Avinu did not want to give the evil King of Sedom any credit for his wealth, but rather wanted to make sure that everyone understood that everything he had was from Hashem.

There is a story of Rebbe Avraham, the son of Rebbe Dov Ber. Rebbe Avraham was a great man, but he was very poor. Whenever his wife would weep about their sorrows, he would remind her that what happened in the past does not matter, because Hashem will help them survive upcoming challenges. Concerning the future, Rebbe Avraham always had complete faith that Hashem would protect them and take care of them. This leaves the present as the only time frame when Rebbe Avraham did not seem to be fully faithful to Hashem. Why waste time worrying about the present, something that lasts only an instant?

This helps us understand Ya’akov Avinu’s thought process. He knew that his sheep survived the past, thanks to Hashem. Ya’akov also had complete faith that they would survive the future. He could only worry about the immediate threat, which would not last long. But didn’t he have faith that Hashem would protect his camp?

Had Ya’akov not split his camp, Eisav would have had a greater chance of destroying everything which belonged to Ya’akov. Normally, Ya’akov Avinu would have had complete Emunah in Hashem, but in this specific instance, Ya’akov did not want to risk the chance that Eisav would have the opportunity to claim that he was responsible for Ya’akov’s prosperity. Just like his grandfather, Ya’akov could not let someone other than Hashem claim any credit for his wealth. This is why Ya’akov took the extra precaution to split his camp into two and used his sheep as an excuse to not travel alongside Eisav. As soon as he reconciled with his brother, Ya’akov wanted to stay far away from Eisav and not give Eisav any chance to ruin his life.

We must learn from Ya’akov to distance ourselves from toxic influences. Once we accomplish what is necessary, we must place a great deal of distance between ourselves and the opposition. We should all have the Zechut to follow in the ways of Avraham Avinu and Ya’akov Avinu.

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