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Vayishlach 5780

Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43 )

by Rabbi Yitzchak Zweig

GOOD MORNING!  What is success in life? All too often, success is equated with some sort of financial achievement. Inevitably, when someone is described as being "very successful," this means that person has achieved financial success. Is that all there is to being successful?

Of course not. In fact, a person can have an enormous amount of money and not even be considered wealthy. How?

Much of the ancient wisdom of the Torah is distilled into principles of life and living and compiled by our sages in the work known as Pirkei Avot - Ethics of our Fathers. This manual for guiding one's life was compiled about two thousand years ago and the wisdom contained within is literally timeless.

"Who is a wealthy person?" asks Pirkei Avot, "He who is happy with his portion." In other words, having a lot of money doesn't necessarily make one wealthy. We all know people who have much more money than they could ever use, yet they spend their lives in the endless pursuit of trying to get even more. They are simply not satisfied with what they have. Are they wealthy? Hardly.

Many years ago I had breakfast with a scion of a well-known South Florida family with vast real estate holdings. He was young, perhaps 22 years old. I asked him, "What are your goals in life?" He readily answered, "My goal is to make one hundred million dollars!" He was a little astonished when I told him that was one of the stupidest things I had heard that week. "But Rabbi, that is a LOT of money!" he protested.

"Of course it is," I explained, "but money is not an end goal, it's only a tool to get you what you want. It's only a means, not an end unto itself." I continued, "You need goals, and then you can decide how much money you will need to achieve those goals. For example, if you want to build a hospital, one hundred million might not be enough! On the other hand, if you have more modest goals, do you really want to waste your life in the office amassing monies you will never need?"

My beloved friend, Rabbi Kalman Packouz of blessed memory, used to say, "No one ever lay on their death bed wishing they had spent more time in the office!"

A good recipe for organizing your life's goals is to begin with a cheshbon hanefesh - an accounting of who you are and what you want out of life. After all, if you don't have goals then it's guaranteed you will never achieve them! Begin with the following: 1) What am I living for? 2) What goals will I find meaningful and rewarding? 3) What did I do today to get closer to my goals? 4) What did I do that pushed me further away from achieving my goals and how do I correct that?

Every week I teach a business class to young men in 11th and 12th grades. One of the primary goals in the first semester is to teach them to have a healthy relationship with money and to understand its true value.

One of the most important life lessons I teach them is something I learned from reading an article that had an interview with Warren Buffet, the famous titan of American finance and investing.

Mr. Buffet has a very healthy relationship with money. He lives in the same house he bought as a young adult, drives an older model American car, and does not have the latest smart phone (he was still using a "flip phone" at the time of the interview). He was asked, "What is a successful person?" Mr. Buffet answered, "If the people that are supposed to love you, do."

So, what kind of person are you? Do you genuinely show care and concern for your family and friends? Have you taken the time to let them know how you feel about them? Are you a giving and generous person? Do you empower others and truly revel in their successes? If you answered yes, then you are surely beloved!

There is one more important piece to add to Warren Buffet's insight. The Almighty loves ALL His children. Yet, just like a parent, if a child misbehaves or is abusive then the parent tends to become distanced from their child. They may love them, but perhaps right now they don't "like" them.

So too, when we behave immorally or we do things that are otherwise improper, we become distanced from God. We constantly have to look at who we are and how we act, so that we and the Almighty can be proud of our relationship. In this way we will have a "successful" life!


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

The Torah states:

And Esau said, 'I have a lot.' And Jacob said, 'I have everything.'" (Genesis 33:9-11).

Which of the two brothers is richer?

The Chofetz Chaim commented that with these two remarks we see the difference between the world views of Jacob and Esau. Esau said that he had a lot. Even though he had a large amount, he would still want more, for "whoever has a hundred wants two hundred." Jacob, however, said, "I have everything," meaning I am not missing anything at all. Esau constantly wanted more, while Jacob felt great satisfaction in what he had.

Regardless of how much you have, there is always much more that you want. Having the attitude that you never really have enough will cause you constant frustration. If you focus on what you lack or think you lack, your life will be filled with anxiety and suffering. The choice is yours to be truly rich or to be "poor" with many possessions!

Internalize the attitude of Jacob: I have everything that I need." If you focus on what you have, you will be happy.

of course, you have a right to try to acquire more. however, if you are unable to, you will feel calm and serene. if you do acquire more, very good. if not, it is a sign that for your best interests you do not really need any more.


Candle Lighting Times

December 13
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:01
Guatemala 5:16 - Hong Kong 5:23 - Honolulu 5:33
J'Burg 6:37 - London 3:33 - Los Angeles 4:26
Melbourne 8:18 - Mexico City 5:42 - Miami 5:13
New York 4:11 - Singapore 6:42 - Toronto 4:23

Quote of the Week

Some people are so poor that
all they have is money.



In Loving Memory of

Kalman Moshe ben
Reuven Avigdor




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