"Your name shall be Yisrael"
Kislev 11, 5771/November 18, 2010
Looking back on the lives of the three patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, we can identify a certain pattern of growth and development. Avraham embarked on a voyage of discovery that began with an intellectual inquiry: Who created and informs all creation? When
Yitzchak was born into this knowledge of
One might therefore assume, quite naturally, that Ya'akov's life picked up just where Yitzchak's left off. That is, that Ya'akov grew up and matured within a cocoon-like spiritual reality, impregnable and impervious to those less than sublime forces of every day life that conspire constantly to deflect us from out true course, to drag us down into despair, and to compel us to compromise on and lose sight of the spiritual truths which guide our life's journey.
Yet, Ya'akov's life, as we all know, was not a serene life of privilege, untouched by tempest and strife, but quite the opposite. Even while still inside his mother's womb, Ya'akov had to contend with violent forces of jealousy and greed aimed against him. This envy and antipathy toward Ya'akov only waxed stronger as he grew up alongside his brother Esav. Eventually Esav's anger became deadly in nature and Ya'akov literally had to flee for his life. But rather than granting Ya'akov some well-deserved respite from all his troubles, his troubles only seem to grow ten-fold. Ya'akov is forced to leave the land of Israel and then he is forced to work as a slave to his wily and rapacious father-in-law. He falls head over heels for Rachel, but is deceived into first marrying her sister Leah. Jealousy between sisters simply adds to Ya'akov's woes. Even separating himself and his family, at long last, from his father-in-law Lavan, in order to return home to the land of Israel, proves a stressful and dangerous task.
Why is it then, that even as the collective soul of the emerging nation of Israel seems to have reached maturation and even perfection in the personage of Yitzchak, it is immediately plunged into a "life-scape" so fraught with peril and threat of extinction, in the personage of Ya'akov? What is
Already tempered through trial and tribulation, the soul of Ya'akov meets its ultimate test in his confrontation with an unnamed angel, just before stepping back into the land of Israel. It was by virtue of this confrontation, in which he bested this heaven-sent messenger, that Ya'akov was at last named - and transformed - into Yisrael - he who has "struggled with
No doubt we, the generation of Yisrael that lives in the land today, and all those who attach their souls to the soul of Yisrael, can take heart in the courage and the conviction displayed by Ya'akov our father. For we too, like Ya'akov, find ourselves constantly besieged and set upon by murderers and thieves, detractors, despoilers and deceivers, in high places and low, who seek to deny and defy us, to supplant and replace us. To all our brothers who bear an implacable envy in their hearts: This generation of Yisrael has returned, and all we want is what is ours - that which Yisrael earned by dint of his cleaving to
Tune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the mysterious balance of light and darkness during the month of Kislev, and the eternal struggle between Ya’akov and Esav, as exemplified by Ya’akov’s wrestling with an angel in this week’s Torah portion of Vayishlach, even as the United States once again pressures Israel to freeze Jewish building in the Land of Israel. Also, the three irrevocable purchases in the land of Israel and the light of Queen Helena's golden lamp.
Tying the Knot atop the Temple Mount: This past week, a dear friend of the Temple Institute, and celebrated craftsman of Temple vessels, ascended the Temple Mount with his soon to-be-bride on the morning of their upcoming wedding. Ascending the Mount and being present in the place of the Holy Temple is an ancient tradition that has been renewed in recent years. Here, however, our story takes a romantic - and daring - twist. Click here to learn more.
This week also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Suppressing Iniquity, Part II:
Ya'akov avinu's (our forefather Jacob's) midnight encounter with a mysterious angel: Who was this angel, what was his purpose, and by what name was he known? Ya'akov overcomes the angel, and by doing so gains insight into all these questions. He also acquires for himself a new name, a new identity, and a new role to play in establishing the Divine presence here on this earth. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
The Temple Institute
Friday, November 19, 2010
Your name shall be Yisrael
Posted by David Ben-Ariel at 5:49 AM