By: Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik

From the Jewish Journal

“Esau lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and he said, ” Who are these to you?”

Genesis 33:5

The verse we are discussing is quite puzzling. Why does Esau ask who these people are? He was not doing a social call – he was initially coming to attack Jacob! So, why does he care who they are? And what is Jacob’s response? “These are the children that G-d has graciously given your servant.” Very poetic, but why not just say this is my family? Why bring up G-d?

To understand the Torah, we must always look deeper. Our Sages tell us that Jacob and Esau had an argument about who would dominate in olam hazeh, this physical world, and in olam haba, the world of the spirit. They reached a compromise: Esau would get this world and Jacob would get the world to come.

So, Esau’s question was, “If you are the man of the spiritual realm, what are you doing with so many wives? That seems like something I should have as I enjoy the pleasures of this world.”

Jacob answers powerfully with two points. None of what I have is ultimately from my hard work or brains, but rather from G-d’s graciousness to me. My wives are not for my physical pleasure, my possessions are not for my ego nor my money for power. What I have are presents for me to serve the Almighty.

May we appreciate and have gratitude for all of G-d’s gifts to us and use them well in His service.