Family Parsha Parshat Vayishlach: Feeling Rich
click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




Vayishlach(Genesis 32:4-36:43)

Feeling Rich


OVERVIEW

Would you like to be rich? Who wouldn't? The Torah tells us a surefire formula to how to strike it rich - and it has nothing to do with money. The secret is to learn how to feel satisfied with whatever we have. Our patriarch, Jacob, knew this secret. In our Torah portion, Jacob tells his brother, Esau, that he has "everything." What he's saying is that he is so perfectly content with whatever God gives him, that he really feels like he has everything he could possibly need. Jacob's precious sense of contentment is what made him "rich," and it can do the same for us.

back to top


STORY

In our story, we meet two friends with different ideas about being satisfied with what they have.

"PEACE OF MIND"

      The lunch bell rang, and 25 pairs of legs jumped up simultaneously, and began their daily race down the brightly painted hallways toward the Hunter Day School cafeteria.

      Breathlessly arriving at the already formed line, Ruth looked at her friend, Penny, and frowned. "I don't know why we bother running. It's always the same long lines for the same gross food."

      Penny smiled politely. She actually kind of liked the cafeteria food. True it wasn't five-star gourmet, but it seemed to always fill her up and get her through the afternoon.

      "Ohh! I can't stand this wait!" groaned Ruth after a few minutes. "Can't they hurry up?"

      Penny looked up, and closed the novel she had been avidly reading. She saved it just for the time she waited on lines. It sure passed the time, and made her actually almost look forward to these lines.

      Just then, the line moved up, and the girls found themselves nearly at the serving station. Penny looked relaxed, but her friend looked as if she were about to go through the ringer.

      "What's the matter, Ruth? You looked really upset. In just another minute or two we'll be sitting down and eating."

      Ruth looked up through clenched teeth. "Easy for you to say. I notice that you always just take whatever they serve you and walk out. But I always make sure they give me the portion I want, and it's stressful."

      Penny shrugged.

      "Doesn't it bother you if you get a small portion? " pressed Ruth.

      Penny thought about it. "I suppose it would be nice to get a big portion. But if I don't, it's no big deal. I guess I kind of feel like whatever comes my way is what God wants me to have, which is fine by me."

      Ruth looked at her friend, and shook her head. Certainly she didn't see things that way. But then again, Penny always seemed so calm and content, not like herself, who seemed to never be satisfied. Could it be that there was something to it?

      Meanwhile the line moved up again and it was the girls' turn to be served. Penny was first and, as usual, she happily took what she was given and moved on.

      Now it was Ruth's turn. The woman behind the serving counter lifted up a piece of chicken with her shiny silver tongs. Instinctively Ruth started to ask for a bigger piece. Then she stopped herself. "Maybe this piece is okay too. Maybe this is the piece that God really wants me to have?" she thought to herself. Ruth felt herself growing strangely relaxed, even ... content. She bit her lip, took what she was served, and went to join her friend at the table.

      "Well, did you get the serving you wanted?" asked Penny, with a grin.

      Ruth was smiling from ear to ear. "Yup, for the first time ever, I got the absolutely perfect piece!"

back to top


QUESTIONS

Ages 3-5

Q. How did Penny feel about the things that came to her?
A. She almost always felt happy with whatever she got, and realized that God was giving her just what she needed.

Q. How did Ruth feel after she tried Penny's attitude?
A. She felt much less tense and upset, when she began to learn to be happy with what she had.


Ages 6-9

Q. Who do you think will live a happier life: someone who is content with what he has, or someone who is always trying to get more? Why?
A. On the surface, it might look like the more someone gets - the better off he is. But happiness has nothing to do with having more or less. Happiness comes when we feel like we have what we need. Therefore someone who can reach that attitude about what he already has, comes out the winner and will even have more energy to strive to attain more.

Q. Can a person train himself to be content with what he has?
A. It takes practice, but it can be done. It helps a lot to keep reminding ourselves that, 'At this very moment, God is right with me, and giving me exactly what I need to become the best person possible.' It may take some work, but it's worth it. The reward is an incredibly happy life!

Q. What are three things you're really grateful for? Who gave them to you?


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Perhaps we can understand how an attitude of being satisfied with what we have can make someone feel content, but what does that have to do with being rich?
A. Wealth is a relative term. A multi-millionaire may feel like he has it made - until he bumps yachts with a billionaire. The pursuit of wealth is essentially a quest for the feeling of 'having enough.' We can get trapped into thinking, 'once I just get that, it will be enough' - but it never is. The only way to really feel, and to be, rich, is to learn to be content with what we have, right now.

Q. Should we apply the concept of 'being content with what we have' to our spiritual strivings as well?
A. A person's spiritual pursuits, i.e. his attempts at becoming a better or wiser person, at growing closer to God, etc., is one area where it pays to always want more. As these are the soul's genuine goals, we will only grow more content the more we strive for, and approach them.

Q. What are three things you're really grateful for? Who gave them to you?

back to top

Published: November 16, 2002

Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!