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Thanksgiving and Ambition 

VaYishlach (Genesis 32:4)

Do Not Covet .... be grateful

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful. Gratitude is essential, if not the main source of happiness and wellbeing. The question is how to be grateful and at the same time be ambitious. Gratitude is a focus on what we have, whereas ambition seemingly is a focus on what we don't. Both are necessary, is there a way for them to coexist?

The great Vilna Gaon says it's faith. Specifically, the faith that each one of us has a unique mission to fulfill. And that should be our ambition. Our unique mission, most often, we don’t get to choose. It is given to us in the form of the life circumstances we find ourselves in. It’s about honoring and caring for the parents, spouse, children, siblings, and friends we have. Working honestly and faithfully in our jobs. Carving time into our schedules for Torah study, etc. However, since G-d has gifted us with everything we need in order to fulfill this mission, it does not contradict being grateful. In fact, if we took this to heart, it could be the source of our deepest gratitude. To be sure, we should do everything reasonable in order to succeed in our careers and making a living, however, we cannot control our success in those matters.

In this week’s Parsha Yaacov returns to the land of Israel where he wrestles with an angel; averts a war with his brother, Esav; his daughter is abducted, his children destroy the cities of her violator; his beloved wife Rachel dies in childbirth; and his father, Yitzchak dies. He wouldn't have chosen any of it, but he responded perfectly in each situation. This is our family heritage. We are Bnei Yisrael, the children of Yisrael. And for this, we are most grateful.

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