Letting Go of Our Fears
Yael Eckstein | November 27, 2023
In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. — Genesis 32:7
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayishlach, which means “and he sent,” from Genesis 32:4—36:43.
Like most parents in the world, I find myself torn between home and work, with four children at home who need my help and attention, but also with a job to do, ensuring that the lifesaving work of The Fellowship continues when the people of Israel need us most.
Yet, whenever I began to feel completely overwhelmed by all the things that I have to do, I stop, take a walk, and thank God for my blessings. This is my way of reminding myself that while I need to do my best at parenting and working, I also need to let go and trust that God will help me. After my walks, I always feel calmer and more connected to God, and as a result, I am a far better parent and more effective in my work.
In this week’s Torah reading we learn that Jacob experienced “great fear and distress” while anticipating a likely attack by his estranged brother Esau. His brother, whom Jacob had not seen since deceiving his father, Isaac, to bless him instead of Esau, was on his way to meet Jacob with 400 men (Genesis 32:6.) Jacob had every reason to fear an attack!
Yet, surprisingly, just a few verses later we learn that “He [Jacob] spent the night there” (Genesis 32:13). The Jewish sages explained that despite the terrible fear that gripped Jacob, he slept soundly that night. He had done what he could to protect his family and pacify Esau, but then, he let go of his fears and put his faith in God. This enabled Jacob to remain calm and at peace even while the potential for great danger lurked ahead.
Let Go of Your Fears
It is human to experience feelings of fear, distress, and to feel overwhelmed at times in our lives. Even holy men like Jacob experienced these feelings. But then we always have the choice to let go of our fears. You can “cast your cares on the LORD” (Psalm 55:22) and have faith that He will help you.
And while we must put in the effort to do what we can to help ourselves, like Jacob did, we can remain calm knowing that God can do what we cannot. He is our Helper, our Protector, and our Savior.
Be a Holy Land Hero
The situation in Israel might seem overwhelming, frightening, and even impossible—both for the people of Israel and those who stand with her. Pledge to pray for God’s help and protection for His children.