Tag – you’re it!

Shani 16 Kislev 5775 Jerusalem Chanoch Ne’eman (c)

Reflection on Jacob’s wrestling match by the river.

Wanted to get this out on Friday for Parshat Yayishlach, so just consider it early for next year.

I noticed this year that Jacob is renamed Israel twice in the parsha. The first time is when he wrestles with the “man” on his way back to Canaan. The second time is later when Hashem tells him directly his name will be called Yisrael.

The explanation for it I heard was that the angel did not really rename Jacob, rather he just gave him some inside information, a sneak preview, as it were, of what would happen in the future. This was the reward, the “blessing” granted to him by the angel.

What was this reward, and what did Jacob do to deserve it?

Jacob did not really best or overcome the angel, he simply kept wrestling him until dawn came, at which point the angel evidently had to get back to his day job, and asked Jacob to let him go.

The reward was being shown – what he could become; a glimpse into his potential.

As Emerson said – we do not know what we can become, until we try.

And winning does not mean victory, it means just being willing to not stop keeping trying.

Two examples.

They report about Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch, that he would pray, “Oh that I could be like your servant, Shlomo Molcho, who was burned for Your sake.”
But Molcho also escaped one burning. The important thing is being willing to take it to the end, not whether you die or not.

Second example. In the Underground Revolt against the British Rule in Palestine, there were several underground groups. The Haganah, which was under the orders of the Official Zionist bodies, fought the British for nine months, in 1945 and 1946. Then the Jewish Agency’s leaders were arrested and they ordered the Haganah to stop. The Irgun revolted against the British for five years, from 1945 to 1948. They were determined to continue no matter what. Their pressure forced the other Zionist groups to declare a State, called – Israel.

The tag from the angel let Jacob know – you can be Israel, if you do not give up.


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