December 8, 2022 / 14 Kislev, 5783 • Parshat Vayishlach
Issue 747
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Jacob sends (Vayishlach, “he sent,” in Hebrew) an entourage of angels to conciliate Esau. He instructed them as follows, "Thus must you say to my master, Esau, 'So said your servant, Jacob, "I sojourned with Laban. I have delayed my return until now.'" 


Jacob emphasized to Esau that he only “sojourned” with Laban, always considering himself a foreigner in Laban’s milieu. Even while Jacob was immersed in his work for Laban, Laban’s materialism was “foreign” and secondary to him; Jacob’s “home” and focus remained the Torah and its commandments.

This awareness enabled him to faithfully observe the Torah’s precepts in an environment hostile to holiness. Not only was he not distracted or deterred by the physical reality that surrounded him, he was able to imbue that very reality with holiness.

Similarly, by retaining our focus on our Divine mission while involved with the material aspects of life – and proudly emphasizing this perspective to those who do not yet share it – we can not only remain impervious to the world’s materialistic draw but refine and elevate it, as well.

—from Daily Wisdom 3