In our Torah portion this week, VaYishlach, we find our patriarch Jacob preparing for what he believes will be an altercation with his brother Esau. They are going to meet for the first time since Jacob had tricked his father into giving him Esau’s blessing and birthright. Jacob is petrified of what might ensue. Having heard long ago that his brother had wanted to kill him. Jacob goes as far as to separate his family into two camps, so that should one get attacked, the other one could escape. But while Jacob is preparing for a war, his brother Esau has other intentions; he embraces his estranged brother and gives him a hug.
Now the midrash tries to tell us that Esau actually tried to bite his brother’s neck. God turned Jacob’s neck into marble. When Esau bit down, he hurt himself so badly, he grabbed his brother out of pain. Nevertheless, the text seems to imply otherwise about their relationship. The two of them seem to have a good relationship from that point moving forward, introducing their families to one another, and supporting each other.
One of the things that we can learn from this interaction is that time can heal wounds. As angry as Esau must have been, over a decade later he was able to put that aside, recognizing that his relationship with his brother was more important. When I think about the way in which Jacob prepared for their interaction, I cannot help but be reminded that oftentimes when we worry about something, the anticipation and anxiety are worse than whatever it is that we were worried about. Jacob’s worry almost prevented him from reuniting with his brother. Like Jacob, may we all have the courage to face the things in our lives that frighten us. May we all have the gift of time to help us heal, and the wisdom to reach out and move forward with ones whom we love, regardless of what may or may not have transpired in the past.
Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch