Jacob is finally going home. He has his wives, his children, sheep, wealth – it should be a joyous homecoming. But one thing casts a shadow over the journey.

Esau hasn’t forgotten the loss of the birthright and the blessings. And he’s bent on revenge.

What’s Jacob to do?

Jacob formulates a plan. A multi-prong plan.

Step 1: Presents to soften Esau up. Jacob sends messengers with livestock as gifts for Esau, even before Esau is aware that he’s coming.

Step 2: Prepare for fight-or-flight. Jacob divides the group with him into two groups. “If Esau attacks one group,” Jacob says, “the other will have a chance to flee.”

Step 3: Prayer. Jacob turns to G-d and asks for His help.

And Jacob came out okay – probably due to all three.

Whenever you’re in a situation where there’s a chance of failure, and you REALLY wouldn’t like the consequences of that failure, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Applying to college? Make sure you have a safety school. Looking for a summer job? Apply and interview for a few of them. Need to get somewhere? Figure out (in advance) what other transportation options you have if Mom or Dad can’t drive you there that day.

Anything that’s important to you is worth planning ahead for – and worth covering your bases on.