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Vayishlach 5778

Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  What is success in life? Many equate success in life with financial success. However, we all know that there is more to life than having a lot of money. (By the way, in Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers [4:1], it asks, "Who is the wealthy person?" and answers, "He who is happy with his portion."). Would you be interested if there was a book that could help you find success in life?

There is a fascinating book, Lifelines -- Techniques for Nurturing Personal Growth by Avi Shulman that sets forth a plan for success in life. The following ideas are drawn from Chapter 6, Defining Success.

First, we need to identify what success means to us, then identify the major areas of our life and finally create a plan to progress in these areas.

Success is defined as 'the progressive realization of a personal predetermined worthwhile goal." Life is a journey, not a destination. If one can treasure each moment, he has a lifetime of joy and accomplishment towards his goal. People identify five major areas in their life: 1) Physical well being 2) Family 3) Spiritual/Mental 4) Personal Finances 5) Vocational.

Each area should have a goal and a plan to reach it. Without a goal, one doesn't know where to go. Without a plan one doesn't know how to go. (It is amazing the amount of effort a human being will put in to avoid thinking, setting goals and planning).

Life is like a wheel and each major area is like a spoke. There needs to be balance in the wheel. It is true and proverbial that "one never wishes on his death bed that he spent more time at the office." On the other hand, a person may realize that his greatest joy is his family and not know how to enjoy time with his kids. It takes wisdom to balance the time and wisdom to enjoy each major area.

I know a fundraiser for a major Jewish organization. People often ask him, "Were you successful today?" He invariably answers, "I am always successful ... and sometimes I also raise money." Success is a matter of attitude and appreciation for what you have and for your efforts. Every day you look at the grass from the top down, you are a success! Ultimately, however, whether one succeeds is out of his hands. There is a Yiddish saying that "man plans and God laughs." We make our efforts and the Almighty gives gifts. If we appreciate that our accomplishments are gifts, then it instills within us a sense of humility and gratitude to the Almighty. It gives us perspective.

There are three rules for success: 1) Initiative -- you have to try 2) Perseverance -- you have to keep trying 3) The Almighty blesses your effort with the kiss of success. Wayne Gretzky, the hockey player once said, "I missed 100% of the shots I never took!"

There is a sure way to achieve greatness in life -- to do a nightly cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of what you want out of life and if you're reaching your goals. (If you don't have goals, for sure you won't reach them.) Ask yourself four questions: 1) What am I living for? 2) What did I do today to reach my goal? 3) What did I do contrary to my goal that I need to correct? 4) What can I live for that is more important/meaningful than my present goal? Do this and you'll be a success!


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Torah Portion of the week

Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4 - 36:43

On the trip back to Canaan, Jacob meets his brother Esau; Jacob wrestles with the angel. Then they arrive in Shechem; Shechem, the son of Chamor the Hivite, (heir to the town of Shechem) rapes Jacob's daughter, Dina; Dina's brothers, Shimon and Levy, massacre the men of Shechem; Rebecca (Rivka) dies; God gives Jacob an additional name, "Israel," and reaffirms the blessing to Avraham that the land of Canaan (Israel) will be given to his descendants; Rachel dies after giving birth to Benjamin (Binyomin); Jacob's 12 sons are listed; Isaac dies; Esau's lineage is recorded as is that of Seir the Horite; and lastly ... the succession of the Kings of Edom is chronicled.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before Jacob's confrontation with his brother, Esau, he made preparations to ensure the safety of his family and his possessions. Following this, the Torah relates:

"And Jacob remained alone..." (Genesis 32:25).

How are we to understand the significance of his remaining "alone"?

The Midrash (Beraishis Rabbah 77:1) states that 'just as the Almighty is alone, so too Jacob was alone'. We see from this that the Sages understand that the word "alone" is a positive attribute and a form of emulating the Almighty. "Alone" means that you have an independent attitude and perspective.

The Mishna (a teaching) in Pirke Avot 4:1 (Chapters of the Fathers --a compilation of Jewish wisdom) defines four key terms: "Who is the wise man? The one who learns from everyone. Who is the strong person? The one who conquers his negative impulses. Who is the wealthy person? The one who is happy with his portion. Who is the honorable person? The one who honors others."

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz, of blessed memory, explained the Mishna in light of the positive attribute of being alone -- that every person can only obtain the most important things in life independently of anyone else. The important things depend on your attitude and perspective.

Wisdom is an approach to life, not a comparative contest. The wise man is the individual who does not compare his wisdom to that of others, but because of his love for wisdom he chooses to learn from everyone, for each person has wisdom to share. True strength is having the ability to overcome your negative tendencies and impulses. If it were dependent upon being victorious over others, as soon as someone else is stronger, you are no longer the strong man. True strength is only dependent upon yourself. Wealth is not dependent on how much money you have or the number of your possessions. If it were, then you could lose your entire wealth overnight. Rather, true wealth is feeling joy for what you do have. If honor were dependent on how others treat you, what are you supposed to do if others decide not to honor you? Woe to a person whose honor is dependent on the whim of others. True honor is up to you. You are honorable if you honor others regardless of how others treat you.


Candle Lighting Times

December 1
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:00
Guatemala 5:13 - Hong Kong 5:20 - Honolulu 5:31
J'Burg 6:29 - London 3:37 - Los Angeles 4:26
Melbourne 8:09 - Mexico City 5:41 - Miami 5:11
New York 4:11 - Singapore 6:37 - Toronto 4:24

Quote of the Week

Success is not the key to happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing,
you will be successful
--  Albert Schweitzer



In Loving Memory of
Geoff Frisch
With Special Thanks to
Ron & June Daniels



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