Kenneth Cohen

Happy With One’s Lot

It is interesting to note the subtle difference of how Yakov and Eisav described their status when they met, after so many years.

Eisav told Yakov, יש לי רב, that he possessed a great deal. Yakov’s response was וכי יש לי כל, that he had everything he needed.

This subtle difference told us a great deal about these twin brothers. Eisav, the רשע, evil one, implied that he had a great deal, but he was not satisfied, and wanted more. Yakov, the Tzaddik, was happy with his present status. He was שמח בחלקו, completely content with his lot in life.

The Ramchal makes an interesting observation about one’s level of spirituality, connected to these two attitudes. The individual who is not satisfied with what he has, is held back from being able to grow spiritually. His focus is always on attaining more physical possessions. He is brought down by this obsession.

The one who feels that he has everything he could possibly need right now, is free to seek more sacred aspirations. The Maharal would add to this idea, by saying that the normal reaction would be to love the One who provides us with all that we need.

We need to take a step back to examine ourselves to be certain that we are in this second category. We must learn to appreciate all of Hashem’s blessings, and never feel lacking in anything. We certainly want to follow the example set for us by Yakov, and not Eisav.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at