D’var Torah: Parashat Vayishlach
What is the secret to giving the ultimate gift?
What is the best possible gift you can give to another person?
In Parshat Vayishlach we are told how Yaakov desperately wanted the answer to this very question. He wanted to appease his twin brother, Eisav whom he hadn’t seen for twenty two years and whom he knew wanted to take his life.
The Torah tells us, “Vayikach Min Habah B’Yado – Yaakov took from everything he had,” “Mincha L’Eisav Achiv – a gift for Eisav, his brother.”
That gift was comprised of the majority of the animals that Yaakov had received as payment for his many years of working for Lavan, in Mesopotamia. But notice that the term here for ‘gift’ is ‘mincha’. It is a term that we are familiar with because it is the name of our daily afternoon service.
So what is the connection between the two?
Onkelos, in his authoritative Aramaic translation, says that ‘mincha’ is ‘tikruvta’ – a sacrifice undertaken in order to come closer to another. Yaakov had sacrificed part of his wealth and he had put great consideration into the gift which he gave to his brother.
‘Mincha’, therefore describes the ultimate gift that you can give to another person. What is interesting is that it does not necessarily need to cost a lot of money. For example if, God forbid, somebody is sitting ‘shiva’ and a close friend prepares a meal for the mourners, it is so touching. It is appreciated enormously and it is a genuine ‘mincha’. The giver has invested not only money but also so much affection and time into what they are giving.
The result is ‘tikruvta’. The connection between the two is far closer than it had been before.
Another example of ‘mincha’ is under the ‘chuppah’. Where the groom takes a ring that he has purchased with his own money and he places it on the finger of his bride. With that statement the two of them become husband and wife.
He needs to have invested something into that ring in order to to purchase it, an element of sacrifice and then he gives it with affection. And ‘tikruvta’ takes place as the two of them come closer to one another. But there is a further dimension to their relationship – ‘kiddushin’. It is a holy marriage, Hashem joins their relationship because when we are close to others Hashem is close to us. That is the ultimate ‘tikruvta’ – achieving closeness to Hashem.
This is the reason why the Gemara in Masechet Brachot tells us that the prophet Elijah was answered by God at ‘Mincha’ time when he had his contest with the prophets of Baal. Because this is the most propitious time of the day for us to connect with Hashem.
‘Shacharit’ (the morning service) takes place straight after we wake up and ‘Ma’ariv’ (the evening service) is just before we go to sleep. But to snatch some time, particularly in the short winter afternoons, to daven ‘Mincha’ involves sacrifice. Therefore the ‘tikruvta’ – the closeness to Hashem is all the more apparent.
So, if you want to come closer to others and to Hashem why not give of yourself. Why not give a Mincha.