As Jacob journeys toward home he learns that Esau is moving in his direction with 400 men. We are told that Jacob sends gifts, including fleets of animals, to his brother to assuage his anger. Unsure about what is about to happen, one might say that Jacob gets his affairs in order. He arranges his family, wives and children and finally presents himself to Esau, bowing to the ground seven times.
Esau’s response is a bit of a surprise. The Torah tells us, “Looking about, Esau saw the women and the children” and remarked, “Who are these with you?” (Genesis 33:5). Esau has become an uncle and brother-in-law many times over, and yet Jacob’s family and newfound wealth astonish him. “And what do you mean by all this company which I have met?” Esau asked Jacob. (Genesis 33:8)
They tried to prevail upon one another with gifts and company, and Jacob and Esau must instead acknowledge a new reality:
“Yesh li rav,” Esau says. “I have enough. Let what you have remain yours.”
“Yesh li kol,” Jacob says. “I have plenty. Please accept.”
There is something magical about this declaration, “Yesh li kol.” I have enough. Twenty years earlier, a perceived scarcity was the source of great fear and anger, dividing the family. Twenty years later, surrounded by family and livestock, both brothers proclaim, “I have what I need” and embrace. Whereas they once competed for parental love and attention and could not stand securely on their own merit, now they have possessions and cannot seem to give it away fast enough. Their words not only transform their dynamic, but they also teach a lesson about gratitude and self-respect.
The Sefat Emet (Poland, 19th Century) translated “kol” as ‘all’ and wrote, “But how can any person say ‘all’? Surely there were some things that he did not have! But for the one who is attached to the upper root, whatever he has is ‘all.’ ”
What he means, I think, is that it makes no difference whether we have more or less. Rather, we need to appreciate that which we have instead of seeing the appreciated value. It is about believing that the sum total of blessings in our life is “all” or “enough” instead of “part” or “almost.” And then, just like Esau and Jacob, it is about declaring it aloud and acknowledging a new reality.
In Judaism, each day begins at sundown of the previous day. Shabbat, being no different, begins Friday evening. I love those moments - as rushed as they may be or as serene as we strive to make them - that escort us into Shabbat. We begin Shabbat by lighting candles (2 in our home) and by doing so we add a measure of spirit that I believe comes from God and those around us. I hope these words help you as they have helped me.