After 20 years of separation, the twin brothers were reunited.

Upon hearing that Esau was traveling toward him with 400 men, Jacob prepared for their meeting by readying himself and his family for war, praying, and sending large gifts of livestock to appease his brother.

In one of the most emotionally charged scenes in the Torah, Jacob and Esau reunite and embrace. Esau tells Jacob that he does not need his gift, while Jacob implores him to accept it. As the Torah describes:

But Esau said, "I have plenty, my brother; let what you have remain yours."

Thereupon Jacob said, "Please no! If indeed I have found favor in your eyes, then you shall take my gift from my hand, because I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of an angel, and you have accepted me. Now take my gift, which has been brought to you, for G‑d has favored me [with it], and [because] I have everything." He prevailed upon him, and he took [it].1

Esau and Jacob seem to be saying the same thing. They both have an abundance of possessions and they don’t need the gift of cattle. Yet upon careful analysis, we discover a slight difference in the way the brothers describe their possessions. Esau says “I have plenty,” while Jacob says “I have everything”.

Esau’s perspective is the perspective of the natural soul and is the reason that, so often, accumulating possessions does not lead to a feeling of joy. Esau says “I have plenty,” but having a lot does not mean that he does not want more. The Talmud says that human nature is such that “one who has one hundred wants two hundred, and one who has two hundred wants four hundred.” Having a lot is no guarantee for happiness; in fact, it can actually make happiness more elusive because the more one has, the greater his appetite for more.

By contrast, Jacob’s attitude toward his wealth is “I have everything.” Jacob does not need more. He has everything he needs to be able to live his life and fulfill his purpose with meaning. If he does not have something, then he is certain that that is not necessary for him to achieve the purpose of his creation.2 As Ethics of our Fathers teaches: “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot.” Jacob is joyous because he has everything.3

There is a deeper dimension to Jacob’s statement. To understand this, we must first ask the question, how can Jacob state that he has everything? He can say that he has all he needs, but how can he say that he has everything if, in reality, he does not have everything? The Sfat Emet, the 19th century chassidic commentator, explains that Jacob does indeed have everything, because Jacob is connected to G‑d, who is the source of all existence.

When Jacob looks at a physical object, he sees its soul, the Divine spark that continuously brings it into existence. When Jacob connects to the soul of the object, by using it in a manner that is consistent with its inner purpose, he indeed has everything. For he is connected to the Divine source of all existence, which permeates everything and encompasses all of existence.