"And Jacob sent messengers." Rabbi Aba asks: What aroused Jacob to do this to Esau? Would it not have been better to be quiet to him [for this mission would remind Esau of his anger]? Jacob said, I know that Esau reveres our father's honor and has never angered him. As long as I know that my father is alive, I need not fear Esau. But now while my father is alive, I wish to appease him. Thus, immediately: "and Jacob sent messengers before him" [to Esau his brother]

"And Jacob sent messengers." Rabbi Shimon opened [his discourse by quoting], "Better is one lightly esteemed who owns a servant, than one who is honored but lacks bread". (Proverbs 12:9) This verse refers to the Evil Inclination, who constantly accuses man [and wants him to sin]. The Evil Inclination causes man to become haughty and proud, encouraging man to curl his hair [and adorn himself] until he becomes prideful and [then the Evil Inclination] drags him to Purgatory.

"Better is one lightly esteemed..." means one who does not follow the Evil Inclination and does not act haughtily, but humbles his spirit, heart, and will before G‑d. Then the Evil Inclination becomes his servant, as it cannot control him. Rather the person controls it, as it is written: "you may rule over him". (Gen. 4:7)

"...than one who is honored..." is as we said, that he honors himself, curling his hair and acting haughtily, "but lacks bread." This is a lack of faith [which means one lacks the Shechinah, which is called 'bread'] as it is written: "to offer the bread of his Elokim", (Lev. 21:17) and "the bread of their G‑d they offer" (Ibid. 21:6) [for through the sacrifices, one connects the Shechinah, called 'bread', with Zeir Anpin].

Another interpretation of, "Better is one lightly esteemed..." is that it refers to Jacob , who humbled himself before Esau so that Esau should later become his servant and he would control him, thereby the verse: "Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you" (Gen. 27:29) will be fulfilled in the future. But it was not yet time. Jacob left this to happen at the end of days, and therefore he acted lowly then [before Esau]. Later however, the one whom he honored will become his servant; he who "lacks bread" [as Esau wasn’t blessed by Isaac with grains] will become a servant to he who was given "plenty of grain and wine" [as Jacob was blessed by Isaac].

Come and see that Jacob knew that he needed him [Esau] now [during the time of exile]. Therefore, he changed himself to appear]before him as lightly esteemed. By doing so, he showed more wisdom and guile than he had ever shown against Esau [before by taking the birthright and the blessings]. Had Esau been aware of this wisdom, he would have killed himself rather then coming to this. However, Jacob did all this with wisdom, and about him Hannah said, "his adversaries [of Jacob]shall be broken in pieces [by G‑d]...and He shall give strength to His king" (I Samuel 2:10) [King Mashiach, who comes from Jacob, who will rule over all the world in the days to follow. May he come soon in our days!]

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida pick this passage, and what are they trying to teach us?

Prayer to G‑d when in need is so important. To speak to our Friend about our troubles, and to seek His assistance is part of "knowing Him in all your ways." Sometimes though, prayer is not enough.

We need to act. But in humility, knowing that G‑d is the One who is calling the shots.

We are told that if we do G‑d's will, and make His will as our own, then He will act on our will. This seems problematic, almost heretical: How can we control G‑d?!

We can't. We can however fashion ourselves into vessels worthy to receive bounty from above. We can act in a Holy fashion, and thus receive the ability to create tremendous opportunities.

Think about your own life and when you were in a tight place. Yes G‑d helped you get out. But you, yes you, you took that first important step of putting down the bottle, drugs, extra food, porno magazine, gambling chip, etc, and got yourself out.

By doing so, you took control, and your yetzer, your yetzer had to listen to who was in charge, at least for a little while!

What does this mean to you, and why is this text being revealed to you now?


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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