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The Gift that Keeps on Giving


B”H, once again our Giving Tuesday fundraiser was well received and as of the moment, almost 100 families have participated. Hopefully by next week we’ll have the final numbers. 

Regarding this week’s parasha, R. Ya’akov Kamenetsky (1891–1986) in his commentary on the Torah called Emes L’Yaakov (pp. 178-179) makes the following observation.

Rashi tells us that Ya’akov used three strategies to prepare for his confrontation with his brother Esav: gifts, prayer, and war. R. Kamenetsky wonders why Rashi organized the list in this order? The reason he’s bothered by the order of the list is because if one looks at the actual verses of how Yaakov presents his strategy, the order should be war, prayer, and gifts. And if one looks at the sequence of the events themselves the order should be prayer, gifts, and war. Either way, gifts should not be first on the list. Why does Rashi place it first? 

Explains R. Kamenetsky that Rashi is coming to teach us that gifts which are essentially a means of diplomacy/peacemaking, is initially the most effective means of dealing with a conflict (even before prayer – bother G-d if you don’t have to). Though it may not have been presented in the Torah first, it is obvious according to Rashi that before Ya’akov would ask for divine assistance or prepare for war he would look to resolve the conflict directly by a conciliatory gesture. This is good advice for all of us – don’t let conflicts get out of hand, don’t bring in a third party, deal directly using some type of goodwill offering and most of the time that will defuse the situation. 

However, be prepared just in case things go south.