Torah scroll (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

This week’s Torah portion is “Vayishlach”(Genesis 32:4–36:43). In it we read about Jacob’s preparations for his meeting with Esau who sought to kill him more than twenty years prior. Fearful for the safety of his family, Jacob dispatches emissaries with a message of peace and reconciliation for his brother Esau. While the dispatch of these emissaries seemed to have gone well, their return was not as bright.

Upon their return the emissaries reported to Jacob that Esau was approaching him with four hundred armed men. Jacob began to worry. Esau’s intentions were no doubt less than dignified. It didn’t seem like Esau was coming with the same conciliatory tone that Jacob was.

Jacob got right down to work and made preparations for the worst. As one will notice by reading the verses, Jacob prepared to meet Esau in three different ways: a) he prepared gifts to give to Esau, b) he prayed that God save him from any harm and evil that Esau might be plotting and c) he prepared for war.

Jacob’s three preparations serve as an inspiration and example to the Jewish People, the State of Israel, and the Israel Defense Forces. We too must emulate Jacob in the manner in which we approach our enemies. First, as a nation, we must tell our enemies that we seek only peace. As Israel’s declaration of Independence clearly states, we stretch out our hands in peace to all our neighbors. We have always been ready to give gifts to our enemies in search of peace. Whether it be the sharing of water and other natural resources as in the case of our peace treaty with Jordan, or land as in the case of our peace treaty with Egypt – Israel is always ready to give gifts to our enemies for the sake of peace.

Second, as a Jewish State, we must always turn to God for His guidance and direction. We must pray that God help us in whatever comes our way, both in peaceful and confrontational. We always pray for our soldiers who stand on our borders. And finally, sometimes we have to prepare for war. We have to fight in defense, and sometimes we must make a pre-emptive strike.

Ultimately Jacob was successful. God answered his prayers and in what appears to be miraculous and Divine intervention, Esau dropped his weapons and reunited with his brother. Well, only temporarily, but that’s another story.

The Esau’s of today continue to plot against us and seek to annihilate us, just as Esau wished to annihilate Jacob. We can never let the guard down. We must always consider Jacob’s three-part planning to meet the regional realities of today.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

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