D’var Torah Vayishlach -Nov. 23, 2018

In this week’s parasha, Jacob and his twin, Esau, come together again after a long estrangement.   The night before the reunion, Jacob is anxious.   We are not given insight into how Esau is feeling, but he had to have had some trepidation as well.  Some of us may be experiencing anxiety as we approach a family gathering on Thanksgiving.  Contrary to the warm and happy reunions shown in ads and TV specials, for many people the day is fraught with interpersonal challenges and baggage from intra-family conflict.  Esau was bent on killing Jacob when they last parted.  Hopefully, our family struggles are not that extreme.  But, Esau and Jacob show us the way to overcome such tensions and difficulties:  Jacob “bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.  Esau…ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And they burst into tears.” (Gen 33:3-4)  Some family relationships are so toxic that they are beyond repair, but, in many cases, there may be the possibility of a “tikkun,” a “repair.”  A show of deference, an embrace or even a handshake to start the day can go a long way to mending rifts.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!