Alone by the river, Jacob wrestled through the night.
As dawn approached, he knew it was time to stop struggling,
But he could not let go.
He cried into the coming day: I will not give up until I find the blessing in all this conflict and pain. In that moment, he heard the question, What is your name?
Jacob, he replied. The last time Jacob was asked this question he had lied and answered, I am Esau.
This time Jacob told the truth
And from truth flowed blessing.
He was told:
Your name shall not only be Jacob.
You will not only be the one who grasps, who holds on, who suffers because he wants things to be different than they are.
Your name shall also be Yisrael—yashar el,
The one who is directed towards God,
The one who has the strength to set his intentions,
Align his actions,
And meet well whatever comes.
Both of these capacities exist within you.
Notice when they occur
Be aware of who and what they serve
And discover how to use them well.
Jacob walked into the new day limping,
His vulnerability revealed.
And he named this place of
Struggle, Truth and Blessing,
Peni-el—the Presence of God.
And going forth from here, Jacob met his brother Esau
And he found the capacity to say:
Looking into your face—
Looking into the face of all that has been
And all that is—
I see the face of God.
As Beit Ya’acov and B’nai Y’srael, the house of Jacob, the children of Israel, we have inherited the rich legacy of Jacob’s struggle and awareness. Through him we are called to examine the truth of our lives. We are urged to explore our willingness and resistance to being honest with ourselves and others. We are challenged to notice our tendencies to grasp, to hold on and fight what is—as well as our abilities to set an intention, follow it with strength and trust in the way forward. Jacob calls us to reveal ourselves and discover the beauty of our vulnerability.
This week we ask:
What causes me to hold back from saying what is true?
When do I find myself speaking the truth?
In what situations do I grasp, hold on, and fight what is?
In what situations do I step into the moment, set an intention and trust the way forward?
Where and when am I willing to be vulnerable?
May we ask these questions with love and compassion.
May we not judge ourselves harshly for what arises.
May we be grateful for each insight.
And may we know that each time we allow ourselves to be revealed in truth,
We expand our capacity for love and awareness.
--Rabbi Yael Levy