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Vayishlach(Genesis 32:4-36:43)

True Wealth

Jacob saw his brother, Esau, for the first time after many years of hiding from him. During their childhood, Esau was angry at Jacob because he thought that Jacob had stolen his birthright. Jacob now wanted to give Esau some of his flocks as a peace offering, but Esau declined, saying:

"'I have plenty ... let what you have remain yours.' But Jacob said, '...I have everything.' " (Genesis 33:9-11)


A LIFE LESSON

There is a world of difference between what Esau meant when he said he has "plenty" and Jacob declaring that he has "everything". Esau, a selfish person caring only about his materialistic possessions, proclaimed that "I have plenty" because "plenty" is quantitative. His material possessions are what he saw as his net worth. If he would ever lose a majority of his possessions, then he would be plenty no more.

Jacob, however, who had his entire family with him, proudly declared, "I have everything." Our most valuable and prized possessions will always be what money can never buy - our lives, our health, our families. For thousands of years, the wisest men have been preaching this truism. But why do we fail to embrace it?

In interviews with elderly people who look back on a life gone by, they dejectedly speak about how they should have spent more time with their families, taken better care of themselves, and certainly focused less on their careers. In fact, there isn't a headstone that could be found on a single grave site that states that the one buried achieved great success in business, real estate, athletics, or the arts. Rather, it proclaims the virtues that the deceased possessed as a grandparent, parent, sibling or spouse.

And this is the world's most ironic paradox. While society, the media, and the world-at-large shower accolades and praise on those who achieve business or personal success, when you pass away this isn't at all how your life is judged - by man or by God.

Monetary and career success are wonderful things. We're all designed for greatness and should strive to succeed and grow in many aspects of our lives. But it's the priceless things in our lives that we tend to take so much for granted and never fully appreciate until we, God forbid, no longer have them or are faced with a fear of losing them.

This is why Jacob knew he had everything. Is there not a dying wealthy person who would without hesitation give his entire fortune to live another year? How about for just another week? Would you ever want to switch places with him? Of course not. Yet, billions of people who still have so much physical life in them choose to walk the earth being unhappy, discontented, and miserable.

The reason for this is that they're usually focused on only the same things that Esau was. Their idea of wealth is exactly what the zombies of society and the media have said that it should be. So instead of appreciating and loving their tremendous and endless amount of true wealth that constantly surrounds them, they instead choose to dwell on missed and lost opportunities, the things they don't have, and all of the possessions they long for.

If you think about "what you have" in the same terms as Esau, then you are certain to have a life filled with frustration, disappointment, and unhappiness. But if you understand the life-changing statement of what Jacob said and you think about all of the irreplaceable and priceless things you have in your life right now, then you now will wake up each and every morning confidently knowing that you really do have everything.

Published: December 10, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 20

(16) Anonymous, December 2, 2014 1:50 PM

Great!

This is EXCELLENT! Thank you so much for posting, this, and thank G-d for Torah, Judaism, and those who help spread His word, like you :-)

jay, December 6, 2014 9:26 AM

Agree

i agree

(15) jaly, November 16, 2013 5:02 AM

Touched

this touched me to the bone

(14) Michael, November 28, 2012 2:43 PM

Excellent

How much this hits home with me is beyond words. Why am I so obsessed with material things and wealth? I wish I was a better person. I started a new job recently and was so happy about the pay. But it's a stressful job and I am concerned about how well I am doing. It's made me realize how lucky I am to have such a loving supportive wife. She is everything I've ever wanted out of a wife...kind, generous, beautiful inside and out, and has a heart of gold. One day, G-d willing she will be a great mother. Now THAT is true wealth.

Michelle, November 30, 2012 8:35 PM

lovely

Michael, what a beautiful message! I bet your wife feels the same.

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