Vayishlach – Rishon

Im Lavan Garti

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

You may recall that Yaakov left home because his brother Eisav was out to kill him. Now that he was returning, Yaakov took appropriate steps to prepare for the reunion. He turned to G-d for help, he sent gifts in the hopes of appeasing Eisav, and he prepared for battle.

Yaakov sent messengers to Eisav with instructions to tell him, “I lived with Lavan until now and I have become very wealthy, so I am sending word to make peace.” (Rashi cites a Midrash that the word “garti” – “I lived” – is an anagram of Taryag – the 613 mitzvos. Yaakov was saying that even in Lavan’s house he adhered to the principles of Torah and did not copy his father-in-law’s ways.) The messengers sent back word that Eisav was en route to meet Yaakov – with 400 of his men! Fearing the worst, Yaakov divided his household into two separate camps so that if Eisav would attack one, the other could flee.

Finally, Yaakov prayed to G-d. He recognized that he had not earned all of the kindness G-d had shown him; nevertheless, He asked G-d to save him from Eisav so that He might fulfill His promise to increase Yaakov’s descendants.

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