Our parasha opens with Jacob returning homeward and preparing to meet his brother Esau after being away from him for an extended period. When Jacob left home, Esau wanted to kill him. Now, he’s unsure of how Esau feels about him. When he hears that Esau is approaching with four hundred people his fear increases. He has no choice but to assume Esau intends to attack him.
Jacob prepares himself for the meeting. Our Sages commend Jacob for preparing for all possible situations, hoping for peace while preparing himself for war. He sends a very generous gift for his brother, hoping this will create good feelings and prompt a peaceful reunion. He also prepares his people for war, dividing them into two camps so that if one is attacked, the other can flee. And thirdly, he prays to God.
As this was true in those days, so it is true in ours. We can never forget that the ideal in all situations would be peace. Even if it means investing expensive resources to bring it about, it is always worth it. War means lives lost. And at the same time, we can’t be naive and unprepared. We must have a strong army and be ready to defend ourselves. Thirdly, we can’t neglect our spiritual essence, especially since we hope it will guide us to behave in an ethical manner both during peace and during war.
May God who makes peace on high, bless us all with peace.