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Responses of the Wise

"When a subject matter is visibly revealed before a person, the way it is meant to be, he will increasingly develop an understanding wherever he turns and will delight and find enjoyment in the beauty of its workings." ~ Introduction to Derech Hashem

"Seven concepts are found in a wise person . . . he discusses first things first and last things last." (Chapters of Our Fathers 5:7) Disputes in marriage, child-rearing, war, etc. many times are rooted in the parties not understanding the position/tenants of their opponents. Achieving this type of understanding between opposing sides can be the means of changing everything. Jacob prepares to confront his brother, Eisav, on his return to the land of Israel. Our sages teach us that there is a fundamental principle of the Torah that will remain throughout world history, "Eisav hates Jacob." Jacob knows this reality regarding Eisav's predisposition toward him and prepares for war. Preparations for war we learn from Jacob: sending tributes, prayer, and physically preparing for battle. When Jacob sends a tribute to Eisav we learn about actions of the wise. He sends a message, in advance of meeting his brother, advising his messengers to be discerning in how they speak with Eisav. He instructs them that when Eisav asks questions in the following sequence, "Whose are you? Where are you going? To whom are these that are before you?" They are to respond with wisdom and respond in the same order in which they were questioned. (This concept of answering first to the first question, second answer, second was indeed utilized by Jacob's mother, Rebecca when she was answering questions when meeting Eliezar.)

"You shall say, "Your servant's, Jacob's; It is a tribute sent to my lord, to Eisav, and behold he, Jacob, too, is behind us." Genesis 32:19, from this week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, Genesis 32:7-36:43 * Thank you to a footnote in Artscroll publishing that inspired parts of the above thought.


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