This is a week many, if not most of us, focus on Thanksgiving. Although not technically a “Jewish” holiday, there is much about the holiday that reflects Jewish teachings. Expressing gratitude for what is good in our lives is very much a Jewish value. Thanking God helps us appreciate what we have, rather than obsess over the things we still desire. In Vayishlach, this week’s Torah portion from Genesis, Jacob and Esau reconcile after many years of estrangement. In anticipation of their meeting, Jacob sends Esau an abundance of gifts to win his favor. Esau’s response is “I have enough, my brother; let what you have remain yours” (Gen. 33:9).
Esau sets a powerful example for all of us — to be content with what we have. Jacob’s response acknowledges God’s role in his good fortune. “…God has been gracious to me, and I have all [that I need],” he says (Gen. 33:11). Jacob and Esau have been blessed with wealth and property, but also with family and well-being. We too must understand that the richness of our lives encompasses much more than material possessions.
May our Thanksgiving celebrations be blessed with thoughts of gratitude for the good and holy in our lives.
Rabbi Sandra M. Bellush