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Torah Tidbits with Rabbi Yaakov Wrightman

In this week's Parsha, our forefather Yaakov goes to meet his brother Esav after being separated for many years.

Before meeting in person Yaakov sent a message to Esav telling him, "I'm Lavan Garti," meaning, "I have lived with Lavan." Rashi explains that the deeper meaning of this phrase lies in the numerical value of the word "Garti". It equals 613, the amount of mitzvot in the Torah. Yaakov's message to Esav was this- despite the fact that he had lived with Lavan for many years, he had kept faithful to God and still kept all the mitzvot. 

Now why would Yaakov tell that to Esav? Why would he care? And what possible lesson does this have for us today?

The root of the word "Garti" comes from the word "Ger" which means strange or foreign. Yaakov was telling Esav- all of my commodities that I've acquired aren't my passion and they are not what I am all about. Although I have worked hard and own many things, they are foreign to me. 

By his commitment to G-d and his commandments, Yaakov had managed to rise above the greatest challenge of this world. He owned his possessions, yet they did not own him. At this fateful moment, Yaakov was asking his brother, "Esav, have you done the same?"
There is a deep lesson to be learned from this exchange. In order to fulfill our purpose on earth, to transform the world into a G-dly place, we can't let "possessions"- our phones, cars and wallets -become more important to us than leading a proper life in accordance with G-d's will. On the contrary, if we view these as simply tools to help us better connect to the divine, they can help us in turning the ordinary into the G-dly. 

Wishing everyone a good Shabbat!
Rabbi Yaakov Wrightman
High School Judaic Studies Teacher
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