Parsha Nugget Vayishlach – Genesis 32:4-36:43

The first time I purchased something with my own money, at about six years old, I bought a bat-type kite for $1. During the time I scrimped and saved my allowance, my mother kept telling me, “don’t let money burn a hole in your pocket.” Valuing thrift and appreciation, my mother knew the lesson of Parshas Vayishlach:

“And he took them and caused them to cross the stream. And he brought across what was his. And Jacob was left alone and he wrestled with a man until break of dawn.” (Bereshis/Genesis 32:24-25).

G-d Doesn’t Want You to Be Poor

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In this week’s parsha , Jacob prepares to be attacked by Esau. He struggles with the Angel and is given the name Israel, then reconciles with Esau and settles in Shechem.

Next, in retaliation for Dina’s abduction, Simon and Levi deceive then massacre the Shechemites. Jacob travels to Bethel where Rebecca and her nurse Deborah die. G-d confirms Jacob’s new name and reaffirms that the land of Canaan will be given to his descendants. Benjamin is born and Rachel dies. After reuniting with Jacob, Isaac dies. The parsha ends with a listing of Ishmael’s family and his death, a listing of the lineage of Seir, and the chronology of the Edomite kings.

As Jacob prepares for Esau’s advancing army he takes his wives and sons across the Jabbok. Then he ferries over his possessions. As the above passage notes, he was left alone. Why didn’t he go with his family and property?

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Despite the danger of staying behind Jacob had to retrieve some small jars. He had internalized the principle that everything he had came from G-d. So if the Almighty gave him something it served a vital purpose. Were this not so G-d would not have bothered to give it to him in the first place.

The Almighty does not demand minimalism. He sees no contradiction between serving Him and acquiring wealth. By the same token, don't take material possessions for granted. Most people have far more possessions than they can count. Yet this does not negate the responsibility to properly care for all of them.

Ideally, express deep gratitude for what G-d bestows on you. Be a good custodian of His bounty: human relationships, animals, and belongings.

Question – How do you reconcile service to G-d with affluence? Please leave a comment below.

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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