Yaakov crosses back over the river, by himself, for the pachim katanim— small vessels. The mefarshim ask “Why did Yaakov, who was a very rich man, find it important enough to risk his life for a miniscule loss?”

I heard once from Rav Mordechai Gifter z”l the following statement: “Regular people are impressed by ‘great things.’ Great people are impressed by ‘small things.’”

The mind of a regular person will focus on sensationalism and things that are out of the ordinary. But to notice and appreciate the fine details in life takes a sensitive heart and an open eye. The person who is able to take it all in shows a greatness in character. As an example, when a regular person feasts at a well-prepared dinner, he might remember that he ate tasty food, but a mere few hours after the meal he will scratch his head and wonder, what were the exact foods that he ate. But a connoisseur of fine foods, such as a chef, will not only tell you the exact foods served at each course of the meal, but how each dish was spiced. The chef does not possess greatness, but rather in his exact field of expertise, the minutia of details are very prominent.

Who is a great person? A great person is someone who sees his whole life and purpose in this world the way the chef sees the food. Yaakov was immensely wealthy, yet he still understood the importance of every item. He not only viewed what he owned as important, but he understood that everyone’s possessions have a purpose. Whether it was his herds of animals or his tiny pots, Yaakov understood that they should not be squandered. While he was working for his crooked father-in-law Lavan, he still bent over backwards so that his father-in-law should not incur any loss to his property. Yaakov expressed this idea again when he left Lavan’s house, and took the time to express his appreciation for every small thing by praying to Hashem: “I am greatly appreciative for getting more than my share of chesed from Hashem, for I left my home with only a stick, and today I have two encampments.”

We learn from Yaakov if you want to be “big” you need to think “small.”