Friday, December 12, 2008

VaYishlach 5631 Third Ma'amar

In this week’s parsha the Torah relates the dramatic meeting between Esav and Ya’akov after thirty-four years. Ya’akov implores Esav to accept his gift saying, “... כִּי־חַנַּנִי אֱ־לֹהִים וְכִי יֶשׁ־לִי־כֹל .../… for God has favored me and I have everything …” Ya’akov Avinu is telling Esav not to be concerned. Ya’akov will not lose anything by giving the gift to Esav. The Or HaChayim explains that even after Ya’akov gives Esav the gift he will be left with everything he originally had. The simple understanding is that since Esav declined Ya’akov’s gift saying that he has a lot and does not need it, Ya’akov responded that he has everything, meaning more than Esav.

This needs to be explained, though. Even if Ya’akov wanted to mollify Esav, how can he say that he has everything? Obviously, when a person gives up something, he has less than before. There are also plenty of things that Ya’akov does not have.

The Sfas Emes therefore explains that Ya’akov Avinu’s response was not a reference to the quantity of his assets. The difference between Esav’s “a lot” and Ya’akov’s “everything” is a fundamental difference between the physical and the spiritual. The physical world is exemplified by quantity and disparateness. The spiritual is exemplified by unity. The more spiritual the less disparate and the more unified. The ultimate unity, of course, is God. Unity means inclusiveness. Because God is the ultimate unity, everything is included in Him.

Ya’akov Avinu said, “I have everything,” because he was aware of the Godliness that is inherent in everything physical. The quantity of his assets was immaterial to the truth of his declaration. Whether he had a lot or a little, he had everything because God’s life force within his assets includes everything.

This concept explains how it is that Hagar, Avraham’s concubine, did not see the well in the desert until God opened her eyes. The Midrash says that we are all considered blind until God enlightens us. Hagar was desperately in need of water. She was in the middle of a desert and had no idea how or where to find it. Hagar’s salvation came when God gave her the understanding that He is in everything. As a result of this realization she was connected to everything including the means to get the water she needed.

Many times we find ourselves in less that optimal situations. We need a solution but do not know how or where to attain it. Chazal are teaching us how we can recognize the solution and attain it. Realizing that God’s force is in everything, we connect with everything. As a result we become aware of the solution which also contains God’s life force. May we merit it!

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