This week, we read my favorite portion in Genesis, Parashat Vayishlach (“he sent”). Among the other stories in Vayishlach, we read about the brothers Jacob and Esau’s first meeting since Jacob stole his brother’s birthright and fled in Parashat Toldot. Jacob sends messengers to Esau and discovers that Esau is coming, along with four hundred men, to meet him. Jacob is scared that Esau will come to kill him and prepares gifts to dull his anger. Yet when Esau sees Jacob, he runs to embrace him, and they are overcome with emotion (Genesis 32:3-33:12).
Jacob’s fear of his brother always stuck with me, as we see Jacob, who is often so creative and cunning, in a situation where he is helpless. Esau, always the stronger of the two, knows where Jacob is, and Esau has a much bigger contingent traveling with him. Jacob cannot prevent his brother from doing what he wants, so Jacob can only hope that Esau’s anger has subsided since his birthright was stolen.