Thirty four years after leaving the land of Israel, escaping, thereby, the vengeful wrath of his brother, Eisov, Ya’acov begins his journey homeward.
On the way, Ya’acov, knowing that he must encounter Eisov, sends a contingent of messengers (angels) to Eisov in order to find out Eisov’s intentions regarding him.
He tells his Eisov, through the messengers, that he has “been dwelling with Lavan”, and then goes on to tell him-again, through the messengers-about the possessions he has managed to amass while with Lavan.
Rashi, after pointing out that the Hebrew word for “been dwelling” is numerically equivalent to 613 (the number of Torah commandments), comments that with his “I have been dwelling (613) with
Lavan”, Ya’acov wished to convey to Eisov that despite his residence with the “wicked” Lavan, he had not been affected by Lavan’s lifestyle and had managed to keep all 613 torah commandments.
Only then did Ya’acov tell Eisov about his wealth and worldly accomplishments.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, drawing upon the famous dictate, “the behavior of the Patriarchs is an example to their children”, informs us that we can learn from this episode an important lesson regarding Jewish public relations:
When a Jew finds himself needing to curry favor with non-Jews, he must not ever assume a posture of self-abasement and weakness. Rather, he must approach the non-Jew with “Geon Ya’acov” (the pride of Jacob), declaring proudly his dedication to the Torah and its commandments.
And when a Jew behaves in this manner, not only will the non-Jew concede to the Jew what he needs–Eisov says to Ya’acov “keep what is yours”(Genesis 33:9); ”here Eisov concedes the blessings to Ya’acov”, comments Rashi–but also he will come eventually to a state of admiration and love for the Jew–”And he embraced and kissed him” (33:4)