I called a friend the other day telling her that I was thinking of her. She gave a small chuckle and started a conversation.

“Hang on a second,” I said. “Aren’t you going to ask me why I was thinking of you?”

“OK, Chaya. Why?”

“Well, I filled up the car the other day, and it cost 2,050 Turkish liras (about $120).

“Then today, on the way home from preschool, my little one fell asleep and instead of taking him out of the car and risking waking him, I chose to stay in the car, engine running, air blowing and enjoyed some ‘alone’ quiet time.

“Remember moons ago when your kids were toddlers? The only way to keep them asleep during nap time was by driving them around. Your husband would remind you, from time to time, how expensive nap time was turning out to be!”

At this point, we were both laughing.

Her little ones, now well into their college years, and me, well ... still at that stage, with a sleeping toddler in the car seat behind me.

“If only your husband would have known how cheap it really was back then!” I added.


Alone time.

Any mother can tell you the value of even just a bit of that. This was the thought I had when sitting in the car. Enjoying doing nothing.

For whatever reason, my mind also took me to another “alone.” I thought back to a story in the Torah where our patriarch, Jacob, was alone.

After fleeing from the home of his father-in-law Lavan, in search of a better life, he crossed the river, taking his wives, children and possessions. And then he remembered he forgot some small vessels.

Alone, he crossed back over the river to retrieve them. On his way, while alone, in the thick of night, he encounters Esau’s angel, who starts a fight.

They wrestle all night.

Ultimately, Jacob walks out, injured, but not before being blessed for greatness.

Jacob won.

A thought hit me. An “epiphany” of sorts.

(Yes, my son took a good nap allowing for all of this ... )

From every single event in Torah, the lessons we can glean are infinite. There are so many ways to understand it. To own it. No doubt, part of our perception is based on wherever we stand in our lives, at that time.

Living in Turkey, I find myself in a unique position, which I’ll explain momentarily.

As a person goes through life, they have “stuff” they need to figure out. People aren’t perfect. Some of us have bigger things and others smaller, yet no one is immune. We all have our “packages,” our “vessels.”

This incident of Jacob teaches us how it’s done.

As you go through life’s journey and need to cross the “river,” you first need to make sure you have your priorities with you. Your spouse, your children, your beliefs and your values in life. These are the “big things.” The most crucial entities to your existence. You need to make sure those important things are with you, safe and intact.

Events happen, life-defining moments. You can’t avoid them. They travel with you wherever you go.

Ensure that the big things, the important things, cross the river first.

Then, once they’re safe, once you’re healthy and in a good space, you can allow yourself to remember those “little vessels.” Those smaller issues are things that have less of an impact andwon’t change you at your core. Those have already crossed safely.

Usually, those little vessels—those memories that linger in your subconscious—tend to start gnawing at you in the thick of night. You need to work them out. They awaken you when you are left alone in the silence with just the sound of your thoughts.

When these little vessels are on your mind, Esau comes to battle you. To crush you and conquer you.

I know that because like I said earlier, I live in Turkey.

For me, I’m usually in the middle of my morning when the Esaus in the West are starting to pester the minds of many.

Knowing that I’m up and just a phone call away, I get to hear from a kaleidoscope of people I’ve met through different stages of life.

I hear their Esaus. I hear their fear. their pain, their worry. But it’s my morning. And, I can assure them, day does break.

You need to conquer that inner Esau. You have to address those vessels that you left buried behind. Gather them. Face them.

What Esau failed to recognize was that a great part of you has already crossed the river. You’re only coming back now because you are in a good place—and you can afford to.

Finding those vessels while facing Esau can be a challenge. You may come out permanently broken, but only somewhat. Still, you will also come out so blessed. And you will never feel as complete.

Then cross that river again—back to where you intended to head—with all your possessions. The big and the small, your important priorities intact as well as your smaller issues worked out. And continue your life with focus and purpose, leaving Esau in the dust as you greet the new dawn.