Dvar for Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)
Parshat Vayishlach records the highly anticipated reunion between Yakov and Eisav, after more than 20 years of rancor and animus, at least from Eisav’s perspective. When Yakov gave his presents to Eisav, Eisav said, “I have a lot…” and don’t need more (33:9). Yakov insisted that Eisav accept his presents, proclaiming that “… I have everything…” (33:11), an argument that Eisav cannot counter, and subsequently accepts Yakov’s gifts. What made Yakov’s argument so convincing that Eisav felt compelled to accept his gifts?
Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz explains the conversation as follows: When Yakov offers Eisav the gifts, Eisav responds that he has wealth greater than others. Yakov responds that everything he has at any given moment is exactly what he needs and that his gifts represented his excess. Yakov suggests that if Eisav’s priority is to have more than others, then he should accept Yakov’s gifts because it’ll increase his overall wealth. While this argument proves effective, it also highlights the opposing attitudes one can have towards material wealth. Accumulating wealth is a selfish pursuit that suppresses giving, while being satisfied with what we have will lead to true happiness and a willingness to share with others.