Dvar for Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)
In this week’s Parsha, Vayishlach, we find Yaakov crossing the Jordan River with his family, and going back for some small earthenware jugs that he forgot (Talmud: Chulin 91). Why would a wealthy man such as Yaakov have to go back for a few jugs? One answer, according to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, is that Yaakov lived with the understanding that whatever possessions G-d gave him were for a purpose. As such, the jugs were as precious as jewels. To Yaakov, the fact that they were inexpensive didn’t matter. Rabbi Ezriel Tauber explains this with the following metaphor: If we were thirsty and asked a friend to bring us water, if they bring a paper cup filled with water, we would drink the water and throw out the cup. But now let’s say we were wandering in the desert dying of thirst. If we were to lift our eyes to Heaven and say, “G-d, I’m dying, please make a miracle and send water!!” and behold, a hand reaches down from Heaven and gives us water in a paper cup. We would certainly drink the water… But what about the cup? We wouldn’t throw it away – a cup from Heaven is a great souvenir! Because G-d could have sent us the water any way He wanted, like making it rain, or created a well, or simply pouring the water into our mouth. The fact that G-d handed us a paper cup tells us that He not only wanted us to have the water, He wanted us to have the cup too.
We’re only expected to work with the tools G-d provides, and whatever He provides is precisely what we need. Whether or not the eventual goal is completed is only in G-d’s hands. This idea of having everything we need is emphasized again in our Parsha, when after 20 years apart, Yaakov is reunited with his twin brother Esav. In describing their state of affairs, Esav says, “I have a lot;” and Yaakov says, “I have everything”. (33:9-11) The difference is subtle, but in fact speaks volumes. Esav is saying “I have a lot…” but I sure could use more, whereas Yaakov is saying, “According to my part in G-d’s grand eternal plan, I have everything – exactly what I need.” If we look at every possession (even little jugs) and situation as a special gift from G-d, the puzzle of life becomes truly meaningful, and more importantly, complete.