כי יפגשך עשו אחי ושאלך לאמר למי אתה ואנה תלך ולמי אלה לפניך. ואמרת לעבדך ליעקב מנחה הוא שלוחה לאדני לעשו והנה גם הוא אחרינו.
Yakov Avinu instructed his messengerswith whom he sent gifts to Eisav: “If my brother Eisav meets you andasks you, ‘To whom are you and where are you going and to whom is all this youhave?’ You should say to him, ‘From your servant Yakov this is a gift; we aremessengers to our master to Eisav, and he is coming after us.” (Bereishis32:18-19)
The Torah is eternal the messages wefind between the verses are important teachings for every generation. We canlearn something profound from Yakov’s words: “If Eisav meets you and asks you”– if the yetzer hara should confront you and ask you, “To whomare you and where are you going?” Whom do you serve with such personalsacrifice and devotion, and how long is the way to spiritual achievement, whichyou are working so hard to reach? Do you think you’ll ever get there?
The yetzer hara tells aperson: You are struggling so hard; Hashem’s commandments are very difficult.At the same time he reminds him, “To whom is all this you have” – look aroundyou and see all the worldly pleasures that you can enjoy, if only you becomeless occupied with spiritual pursuits.
This approach of the yetzer hara issometimes very persuasive. Our Rebbes have said that if the Gehinnom would beburning in full view and the physical temptations of the world would be in thebooks, we would all be tzaddikim. However, in reality the physicaltemptations of the world are displayed in the street while the reminders aboutHeavenly retribution for our sins are contained in the books. In order tochoose right from wrong, a person must study these books and turn away from thestreet – not an easy task. This is why the yetzer harais often verysuccessful by arguing, “Look at all the pleasures that are waiting for you outthere. You should take advantage of life and enjoy every moment to themaximum!”
Yakov’s instructions follow with a rebuttalto the yetzer hara’s argument: “From your servant, this is agift; we are messengers to our Master.” We are servants of Hashem and we areHis messengers. He sent us to this world for a specific mission, and we mustremain faithful to this mission. We must remember the purpose of our existence,and not allow ourselves to become distracted by the temptations of the worldwhich draw us away from our obligation to serve our Master. As for the worldlylures, they are “to Eisav” – they belong to those who value only their physicalbeings and do not aspire to eternal gains. The wicked who have only short-termaspirations and are willing to sacrifice eternity for transient pleasures, theyare the ones you should tempt with olam hazeh.
Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim: “Frommy enemies I gained wisdom in Your mitzvos.” When I see how the wicked pursueempty worldly pleasures with such gusto, I learn how I must serve Hashem – withsimilar intensity and enthusiasm. In fact, this is the benefit we have frombeing exposed to worldly pleasures; it shows us how enthusiastic and passionatewe must be about serving our Master, the One to whom we belong, the One whosent us as messengers with an important mission.